The Son, The Backpack and the Angry Parents

Every morning, I drive my 12-year-old son Thomas to middle school.  He sits in the front seat with me.  He keeps his weighty backpack in the backseat.

When we get to the school, he gets out of the car, shuts his door, and opens the door to the backseat to reach for his backpack.

That’s when I reach over the front seat and grab one of the backpack straps.  When he pulls on the backpack, it doesn’t move.

A tug of war ensues.

This is a little embarrassing for him because he’s in junior high and we’re right next to the central quad where all the “cool” kids hang out before school.  So while they do whatever it is “cool” kids do, Tom’s playing tug-of-war with his dad.

Today I made a point of holding on to the strap longer, to the point where he was about to give up on the backpack altogether.  I call it my “death grip extraordinaire.”

That’s when I heard the car horns.  A lot of them.

I looked back.  We were holding up a huge line of cars.  Cars filled with parents trying to drop their kids off at school.

I can only wonder what these parents behind me we’re thinking as I maintained my death grip on Tom’s backpack.

Actually, I can do more than wonder, because I could see their faces in my rear-view mirror.  And they were not big fans of tug-of-war.

That’s too bad, because the Olympics begin tonight, and you’d think the thrill of athletic competition would be in the air.

25 thoughts on “The Son, The Backpack and the Angry Parents

  1. I hope you are setting aside money for future therapists for your son. He’s gonna need them.

  2. Screw those other parents. When my dad used to drop me off at school, he would barely stop the car. I think it’s great that you and your son have a playful relationship.

  3. Your poor children. At least it seems like Staci is normal. They might just have a chance!

  4. Excellent. The tug of war is great, and the fact you get to tick off suburban parents is the icing on the cake!

  5. LOL…while I giggled, my 11-year-old daughter shrieked “not nice! not nice!”.

    Two different perspectives…one blog entry. 😉

  6. Ah, the nerd Dad in you surfaces. Thank goodness. I was struggling with keeping the ‘he and his crowd are so cool, and the rest of us are just people’ committee meeting in my head from getting too loud. But no, you have just established yourself as one of us. One who sometimes pushes the envelope from playing with our kids to just being an uncool annoyance. I like your blogs almost as much as the strip. Sometimes just as much. Thanks for it all.

  7. I am with Bob – the other parents sound boring. You sound fun! Plus the way I picture the parents (at least in my mind), they are the kind of people it is fun to mess with.

  8. First you swat the shot of a twelve year old kid at basketball practice, then you get into a tug of war with your own twelve year old son. Any chance that you really would like to be twelve again, only with a gargantuan body?

    Wouldn’t we all !

  9. Today was hat day at my 12 yo son’s school. He doesn’t own a hat … he owns 40! So of course he would not be content wearing the same hat to every class. So we pile out of the car in the long line of parents dropping off and he gets his bags (including a bag of hats) so his arms are both totally full (it’s also ski club day – so he has that bag – and the last day of the penny drive so he has $45 worth of pennies in one of his bags). I, being the great and helpful dad I am, reach in the car and grab his GIANT sombrero and shove it down on his head past his eyes, at which point I point him toward the door, give a little shove, jump in my car, and drive away with a huge grin on my face. I love being a dad.

  10. And here I thought your story would end with you suddenly letting go of the backpack and laughing maniacally as he falls backward…

    I mean, that [i]is[/i] your style, no?

  11. I’d like to talk to your son. I know a move he could do that would keep you from pulling that prank the rest of your life.

  12. does your kid blame you for his depleted social life? i find it hard to believe it hasn’t been affected.

  13. You are evil. I agree that you should start setting money aside now for your son’s therapy. Were you ever IN middle school?? Unless, you know, he doesn’t care about what the cool kids think. If that’s the case, good for him and good for you!

  14. Hell YES the Olympics begin tonight! And as the guy from Victoria… I can just wish that Victoria was only slightly closer to Vancouver. Ah, well.

    The Olympics don’t TRULY start until hockey starts playing.

  15. I just called my dad and read this to him. His response (totally deadpan): “Why are you telling me this? I never did anything that embarrassed you.”

    There was a pause, then we both burst out laughing.

    Keep up the good work.

  16. Neil,

    That’s just what they’d be expecting. No, he needs to keep his son on his toes to prepare him for the real world. If he made it that easy for him he’d never grow.

    It’s not enough to simply pull on the backpack and expect it to be released. Sometimes, you have to accept defeat. As his son should have done, that way all those parents would be upset at his father. It’s his son’s unwillingness to let go that caused that traffic build up.

    Shame on your son, Stephan.

  17. Relish the time where you can still torture your son. The day will come when he will 1) be big enough to kick your ass and 2) when he won’t need you to take him anywhere anymore… So I say torture away… A little good natured public humiliation never hurt a growing boy.

  18. You’ve got it screwed up. Don’t waste your time playing tug of war with him, get the car to seemingly swerve out of control from his perspective while you’re completely in control. That’s something my dad used to do before we lived close enough for me to walk to school and no longer take the bus. If I missed the bus and he hadn’t left for work yet, he’d drop me off. And if it were snowing or he was in a mood for a little fun he’d get the car to fishtail into the school parking lot. You’d think we were completely out of control and going to crash as the tail went one way then the other before straightening out. That is until you heard him laughing and realize he’d done it on purpose just to scare you.

  19. You know, as tempting as it is to feel sorry for your son, I think this is wonderful. My dad passed away when I was only 19 (I’m 21 now) and it’s moments like this that you miss the most in the end. 🙂 Annoying and embarrasing as you may be, he’s a lucky kid (even if he doesn’t realize that now).

  20. Thanks a lot…. My dad did it to me this morning and i was also very embarrased. Except that he grabed one of my ugly doll stuffed animal key chains. We did not get honked at. one because everyone at my school is friendly (even the parents) and two it wasn’t very long. My dad is a big fan of yours and reads your blog everyday I think… he is always on the computer.

    Alexandra 4th grade

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