No need to hack his texts…yet.

My son now has a record.  Not unlike Cool Hand Luke, he recently spent a few hours pulling weeds in the middle school courtyard while others watched a movie in the gym.  A repeat offender, his rap sheet boasts multiple gum chewing incidents and one broken cafeteria broom.  Not unlike his father who once set off a bottle rocket in an empty school hallway, my honor roll son just can’t seem to consistently tow the line.  Repeatedly praised for his polite manner, good grades and generous spirit, I’ve tended to minimize his detentions as they seem to present harm only to the bottom of someone’s shoe.  But should I?  After reading these recent thrillers, paranoia becomes an option.

Defending Jacob by William Landay defendingjacob
A 14-year-old boy is accused of murdering a classmate.  The original district attorney assigned to the case, his father must now sit on the other side of the bench, helping to defend his son.  When questions involving heredity come to light, the boy’s mother comes to her own conclusions.  The ending made me gasp and grapple with choices I hope never have to be made.

The Good Father by Noah Hawley
Paul thinks nothing of his son dropping out of college to “see the country” until the Secret Service knocks on his door.  His gentle, Greenpeace-loving son has assassinated a leading presidential candidate.  Re-married with young children, Paul must come to terms with his part in his first son’s choices.

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton afterwards_800
Comatose after saving her daughter Jenny from a devastating fire, Grace searches for the arsonist, her daughter’s potential killer, in overheard conversations and out-of-body experiences.  Her son is accused of the crime, and Grace must learn more about the hidden lives of her daughter and family and friends in order to rest in peace.  In the style of “The Lovely Bones”, but with a twist.

We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
When her son kills seven in a school massacre, Eva attempts to apportion blame.  Was Kevin born a killer or was her inability to love a “difficult child” the deciding factor?

Given that my son once carried a stray dog around three local developments looking for its owner, I highly doubt I need to reserve him a place in maximum security at this point.  But, I should probably notify the school that pulling weeds on a beautiful sunny day rather than watching Ice Age in the stuffy gym was not much of a deterrent to the mid-day need of a sugary snack.  Not, that is, until he had to pull them again from the flower beds at home.  Now that’s what I call “character building.”

What reads or movies have scared you into being a better parent?

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