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Invisible Dad

Invisible Man sculptureBy the time you read this post I should be comfortably in the air headed toward sunny Barbados to join the female half of my family. Yesterday, I experienced a real travel nightmare that left my son and I grounded, exhausted and starving and cut our trip one day short. I'm convinced the T in travel is for terrible. If it wasn't it'd be called something else, maybe, "schmavel". If teleportation ever becomes an option in my lifetime I will be be one of the first people on line to get vaporized.

But it is what it is. Rules are rules. I'm pretty black and white on that, especially if I don't have the time to contest it, such as in an airport. Yesterday my wife and I had to split up for the sake of salvaging our reservations. Since she has family on the island, had set up the accommodations and rented the car, I opted to stay home with the boy and renew his passport. Plus, I'm the one who's cooler under fire. I know how to speak to people who annoy me without appearing annoyed and when required, I can drive like a bat out of hell. All of these traits came into play yesterday. And thankfully by 5 pm all was resolved.

But there was one major problem:

For all the posts I've written about my exploits with my son, for all my claiming my son as, "my son," for all the doctor visits, tutoring sessions and emails and phone calls made by me on his behalf, I'm as official as the bootleg purses and watches sold on the sidewalks 42nd Street (before Mayor Bloomberg).

I stayed behind to set my son up with his new passport and my name wasn't on a single sheet of paper stating that I'm his father. After passing all of the necessary documents over to the clerk at the passport office, she looked them over and then looked up at me to ask, "Who are you? There's nothing here stating that you're his father?"

That was a gut shot that hurt quite a bit.

Thankfully, my father-in-law was with us to vouch for me, but all his vouching did was keep me from getting turned away without any consideration. At the end of the day, and I literally mean the end, my wife had to verify that I was who I was. And my son wasn't exhibiting any behavior that indicated that I was holding him captive against his will.

When I first met my wife she said any man she married would have to adopt her son. Since we've been married I've started the conversation several times, but nothing has come of it. Life gets in the way. There's not enough time. Simple procrastination. These are all things that I've observed as getting in the way of this process. And as a man with no claim to him it's not like I can adopt him by myself without getting arrested. When my son entered high school, I warned my wife that my signing off on all of these documents was going to catch up with us sooner or later. Yesterday that truism came to pass.

The craziness and the red tape didn't really bother me. As I stated before, rules are rules. The goal was to get the boy on the plane so whatever it took was whatever it was going to take. Having it officially brought to my attention that I am about as official in my son's life as a wet stamp with no glue on the back bothered me tremendously.

My father always says, you learn sooner or later, hopefully sooner rather than later. Later seems to always come with higher stakes and harsher consequences. Hopefully the hoops I had to jump through yesterday while being invalidated will be the highest our stakes ever get.

Opt for sooner rather than later when it comes to the really important stuff.

Photo Credit: West Harlem Art Fund


Barbados NOT (Today)!

I am currently swirling around in the fiery muck known as traveling Hell:

  1. Stayed up all night to get to the airport on time.

  2. Found out 1 child's passport expired while checking bags.

  3. Wife started crying at the counter.

  4. Father-in-Law (who dropped us and walked us in) threw a fit.

  5. My baby girl started crying when she realized we weren't coming (I was staying behind, she currently would feed her brother to crocodiles if she could).

  6. The folks at JetBlue were completely professional and rebooked me for tomorrow.

  7. Spent the next hour on the phone with the Gov't scheduling expedited passport appointment near my home thinking that was convenient.

  8. Phone died.

  9. Drove 2 hours in traffic from JFK (spent most of that time cursing myself out) and almost missed my appointment.

  10. Went through metal detectors and stood on line behind a boy with blond highlights and long nails who kept rubbing his behind and bending over in pants so tight he could barely walk only to learn I didn't have enough documentation on my own as Dad for my son's passport.

  11. The passport worker made me take an oath that the boy represented in the picture was a true and accurate photo of my son. I thought she was joking because he was standing right next to me (even he was perplexed by that one)...she wasn't joking.

  12. Currently waiting for the wife to land for her to fax me maternal authorization.

  13. Have to go back to passport office at 3 to hopefully get the passport by 4 if the wife does what she has to do - otherwise no trip for us.

  14. Fighting to stay awake.

  15. Ate some really bland soul food along the way.

  16. Maybe tomorrow?

  17. Son looking at me in new light (the only perk).


Wordless Wednesday: Grown Man Roos

Grown Man Roos, originally uploaded by E.Payne.

That's right. This is my collection all bought or gifted to me from H&M over the past few years. This is only the beginning... I was doing laundry... I couldn't resist...


Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers For the Wii Review & Giveaway

As promised, I've got goodies for the Month of the Dad --- the thirty days that lead up to Father's Day.

First on my list is the Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers video game:

A little over a month ago I had the absolute pleasure to visit Atari's Manhattan offices where I got to test out Sandlot Sluggers with the developer who created it.

First off the game is highly intuitive and on my platform of choice, Wii, intuitive goes without saying. Who doesn't want an opportunity to knock it out of the park and not be labored with a whole bunch of commands?

Secondly, meeting a game developer and listening to his passion for creating video games was no different than me listening to a master photographer, musician or celebrated author discuss their motivation and workflow. I know these guys have reputations for being uber geeky, but the guy I met was a master of his craft, plain and simple.

Check out these powerups:

And characters:

This is definitely something to do with the entire family on a rainy day, to set up as an "always-on" activity when hosting a barbecue at your home, or to do when whittling away the day when your games aren't on and the wife is gone for the day with the kids.

Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers offers hours of entertainment with laugh out loud comedic commentary and exaggerated animations for a one-of-a-kind gaming experience. The game is packed with loads of surprises to keep kids coming back for more and stars a neighborhood full of fun and diverse kids – both fan favorite characters and new friends. New features like Power-ups, Mini Games, and Family Co-op allow for a fun-filled experience for the whole family—young and old!


Two (2) copies of the Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers for the Wii will be given away to two (2) individual contestants. Winners will be selected using Random.org.



Leave a comment on any post on this blog and let me know in the comments section of this post.

Additional Entries:

  • Subscbribe via RSS or Email to this log (counts for 5 additional entries).
  • Join the Makes Me Wanna Holler Facebook Fan Page (there is an additional perk for the 250th fan of my Facebook Fan Page) (counts for 5 additional entries).
  • Become a Follower on Google Friend Connect (see right hand column of this blog) (counts for 5 additional entries).
  • Tweet the following: Fun for the whole family! Check @MakesMeHoller & Enter to win a copy of Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers http://tinyurl.com/2do4de2 #giveaway Remember to let me know you tweeted in the comments below. 3 tweets per day during contest duration. (1 additional entry per day of tweeting).
  • Update Your Facebook Status: Just in time for Father's Day and the whole family: enter to win a copy of Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers for the Wii http://www.makesmewannaholler.com/2010/05/backyard-sports-sandlot-sluggers-for.html Be sure to let me know in the comments below that you've updated your status so that your entries can be counted. 3 status updates per day during contest duration (1 additional entry per day of status updates).

Contest Duration:

The contest will run from 12:00pm, Monday, May 24, 2010 to 11:59 pm, Friday, June 4, 2010.


You must be a resident of the United States or have a valid U.S. mailing address.

Good luck!

Official Product Information:
In time for the 2010 season, eager young baseball fans can play rain or shine with Atari’s all-new Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers video game for Xbox360, Wii™, and Nintendo DS™ shipping out May 25, 2010. Based on one of the best selling kids’ sports videogame series, Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers allows players to join their favorite neighborhood friends and play ball in fun and exciting arcade style sports action. Sandlot Sluggers, developed by HB Studios, is a completely new take on a longtime favorite franchise with all-new features, updated graphics, enhanced gameplay, and extensive options that will keep players and gamers alike enthusiastically entertained.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Neither E.Payne nor MakesMeWannaHoller.com is being compensated in any way for this review or giveaway.


Wordless Wednesday: Maxwell & Auntie

Maxwell & Auntie
A new friend of the family.

My wife (background) couldn't wait to wrench this newborn out of his mother's hands and shoot me the questioning, "when are we having another one?" look.


Bye Bye, Backfat - Hello Boxing Gloves!: Part Who Knows At This Point: Garbage In, Garbage Out!

As we're only a couple days out from being one month from Father's Day I'm going to shift gears away from the fam and start focusing on that person that plays the part of dear old dad: men. (Drumroll and horns...) Behold the month of the DAD!!!

I've been quite vocal (visual, actually) for the past couple of months about my experience at LABoxing: getting back into shape after a four-year hiatus --- enduring their hour-long, 1,000 calorie cardio box beatdown. I've even expressed my newfound love of and ability to jump (skip, to use the proper terminology) rope. Currently I'm jumping rope about 5 days per week and I'm working out at the gym roughly 3 days per week. I'm getting my sweat on and I'm replenishing my fluids as much as my bladder will allow. I'm lighter on my feet, my overall stiffness is melting away. I've dissolved 12 pounds and am fitting back into my fitted clothes, slowly but surely.

I woke up this morning with a simple thought: In our energy conscious society we pay particular attention to fuel and it's optimal use. We opt for lithium rechargeable batteries for our electronic devices. We want to know that the overpriced gas we're putting in our cars is as pure as possible and not filled with pollutants for the sake of our cars' engines and our wallets. In short, we want the best for our cars, and our grown up toys, so that they perform at their peak as much as possible.

Shouldn't the same apply to us?

For whatever reason we are okay with pumping garbage into ourselves, wallowing in not even mediocre output and feeding our perpetual misery with even more garbage. When something bad happens I automatically begin to think of hamburgers, French fries and milkshakes. My wife and I have a pre-vacation challenge and upon weighing herself this past weekend, she immediately became depressed and proclaimed she wanted a cupcake.

"Don't you think that's counterproductive?" I asked.

She shot me a dirty look.

Let me paint an even clearer picture. We would never knowingly feed our dogs and cats food that would contribute to them becoming overweight or ill. We want our pets to be as healthy and happy as possible for as long as possible. Maybe this is selfishly for ourselves as pet owners, but as the owner of yourself, shouldn't you want the same? Taste buds and endorphin responses aside, garbage in will always give you garbage out, even if you are super active.

For the past few years since my daughter's birth I have been steadfast in being against her eating anything that resembles empty calories, but I've been okay with indulging myself. But today is a new day (and so was yesterday and a few weeks ago). As the owner of myself, I say no to garbage in, garbage out. To be fair, I do give myself one day a week to splurge so I don't go hog wild on unexpected binges. But overall, I want to be happy just like my long-haired dachshund and I want to have optimal performance just like my...well, I can't speak too highly for my piece of crap SUV right now, but I daydream about it having optimal performance.

Take baby steps if you must, but do your best to say no to Garbage In.


LeBron's Teachable Moment

I can't count myself as one of the legion of super-knowledgeable sports fans. I don't follow drafts and picks. I can't rattle off rosters, nor do I know any teams salary caps and so on and so forth. For whatever, that's just never been my thing. If I'm not competing I've always had a hard time immersing myself in the life of another athlete.

But that doesn't mean I'm not a sports fan (to my wife's chagrin), and that doesn't mean I don't get excited to see true warriors emerge, be it on a basketball court, tennis court, football field, track or in a swimming pool (sorry Golf, I'm not including you).

I was very excited going into the contest between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics --- a team I've passionately hated since the age of ten. A darling of the Jordan era of the Bulls, there was no way I can ever support them. "It's the principalities of the matter."

Instead of a contest where the supposed warrior god LeBron was expected to move into the next round I perplexedly watched him and his team implode and then appear to be surprised about it. What I was treated to however, was the amazingness that is Rajan Rondo.

"Next year, other teams looking, what it's going to take for him to win a championship, blah, blah, blah." The experts and super fans can argue themselves silly over this. What I will say however is that no man is a team, and no man, no matter how talented should expect things to go their way without effort. Game 5 was an effortless performance by the man dubbed the best basketball player on Earth. Maybe currently, but until Michael Jordan passes on into the next life, LeBron shouldn't be burdened with this mantle. Did he think it was going to fall out of the sky? Did he honestly believe an older, harder team was going to hand it to him? In the end only he knows what was going through his mind and not driving him.

And here's the lesson: talent without effort is nothing. Skill without discipline is wasted skill. The Celtics knew LeBron was better than each of them individually, so as a team, they combined, quadrupled effort and worked harder to defeat him and his Cavs.

For all of you out there with sons who have dreams of being this new Number 23, please instill in them that effort is everything. A hard worker can spot a person more talented than them a mile away and if there is any chink anywhere in their armor, the hardworker will cut that person off at the knees and shove their talent right down their throat --- each and every time.

I'm no Ph.D. is sports. But that's just my two cents.

Photo Credit: MKROB Sports

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Bye Bye, Backfat...Hello, Boxing Gloves! Part 7: Failing To Prepare...

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R.I.P. Lena Horne

This is my 2nd R.I.P in less than 30 days...20 actually.

Lena Horne was a rebel. Like the women who preceded, birthed and raised my father and his siblings she was born during a particularly awful time (I'm sure someone could say the same about right now). She was a walking contradiction --- beautiful but black, as if the two couldn't exist together. And like the women on my father's side she had the option to pass herself off as anything but black or African American and she opted not to. In fact Lena Horne was outspoken --- to the detriment of her Hollywood career --- against the absolutely outrageous social structure in place that was fine with the majesty of her her performances existing for the entertainment of whites, but absolutely against her as a person rubbing elbows in these circles. Miles Davis' answer to this was to play with his back to his audiences --- a most indignant but hilarious response in this writer's humble opinion.

Thank God she had a singing voice and was able to break down doors in spite of those who slowed down her Hollywood career for being "uppity."

Growing up, I couldn't wrap my mind around how beautiful Lena Horne was. And the fact that she was Black made her an anomaly among anomalies...how sad...

Thank God I grew up, woke up, met family, traveled and learned to view the world with eyes wide open. By my teenage years I understood that beauty and talent is reserved for no one ethnicity, tribe, country, gang, clique, whatever. God intended it that way when He started putting people all over the planet like chess pieces.

Lena Horne --- a real life, ageless, lifetime legend in my lifetime. Wow! I most humbly bow my head in respect.

Rest In Peace.

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Bye Bye, Backfat...Hello, Boxing Gloves! Part VI: "Aren't You Too Old To Be Boxing?"

Bye Bye, Backfat
Photo Credit: Self-Portrait by E.Payne

"Aren't you too old to be boxing? I mean c'mon?" is what my mother-in-law immediately asked me yesterday after I revealed to her my new fitness routine.

I can always count on her to not keep her thoughts to herself...

I laughed and quickly explained that I wasn't trying to be a prize fighter. I was simply getting in shape. 6 weeks ago I may have agreed with her. But that was then and this is now: 6 weeks into my experience at LA Boxing - Mammaroneck, approximately 10 pounds lighter (I can't seem to shake a nagging fluctuating 1 pound), a whole lot stronger, faster with my hands than I ever thought I could be and walking tall --- shoulders back, back straight --- not so much from pride but because of all the ab work I'm doing.

It has been a serious uphill battle chasing down the former me: 173 pounds, 6% body fat, insane, disciplined and maybe carrying 25% of the responsibilities I do now and having roughly 50% more time than I do now. When I was in this place it was the winter of 2005. Barely 30 days later my daughter was born. Then began my slow, unnoticeable descent into personal inactivity. By the time I got married in 2007, I had gone from being up at 5:45am to do more in an hour than most people did in a week to doing a handful of pushups when the mood hit me. After I got married I stopped doing even that.

In July 2009, I weighed in at 205. My body felt heavy and slow, I couldn't move the way I wanted to and my right heel was bruised making it nearly unbearable to walk. None of my clothes were fitting. Even though it took me 3 years (starting from my daughter's birth) to gain only 28 pounds, this was no consolation for me. That summer I managed to run off about 12 pounds of that, much of which I now suspect was water weight because by year's end and a heavy round of holiday eating I was 205 once more. At 5'10" 205 is easy to disguise clothed, but not in the mirror after you come out of the shower. Not when glory that was once your pectorals (established during my senior year of high school) had become flabby pieces of meat covering your breastplate.

Making matters worse is that I'm no longer a gym rat after having put myself through a year of a Brooklyn based bootcamp in 2005. It was in Prospect Park that I learned to do bear crawls and mountain climbers until exhaustion. I sprinted the entire length of the Brooklyn Bridge in both directions. I did jumping jacks at red lights ignoring the heckles from everyone that felt the need to roll down their windows and yell at me and my fellow boot campers. I removed the bread from my diet, lived off lean meats, fish and vegetables, ate before seven and was in bed by eleven. My boot camp instructor loved me and made me an example for the rest of the group. I was a non-complainer who did what I was told. I did have my binge days on Sundays where I ate everything that wasn't nailed down from French fries to frosted flakes. The bottom line was that although I had a girlfriend and a son to be (my wife and son now) but I was single and my time was mine.

Not so anymore. Other than promising myself to get in shape someday my options were bleak. My body --- something I've been in tune with and kept tuned for a very long time was out of whack and no longer listening to me. I was contending with dim prospect of having to live with something that is me but resembles nothing I've ever known to be me (if that makes sense). My self-esteem was on the line, because a major tenet to me being who I am is being in shape and feeling like I'm in shape. Working out aided in my development of the self-love required to be able to love others and not rely on others for love and approval. It rounded out who I was as a person. That part of me has been missing for these past few years.

Then along came LA Boxing (Mamaroneck). They saw in me an opportunity (I guess): an out of shape family man who was very vocal about wanting to be in shape once again. For me it was simple. I'd get to learn how to box (or something close to it) --- something I've always wanted to do. It took me nearly a week to get up the nerve to actually go to the gym after I had secured my membership. I wore a lot of clothes that first day to cover my protruding gut and my less than defined arms and sharp shoulders. By the time I was done with their signature, hour-long, 1,000 calorie burning cardio boxing routine (complete with gloves and heavy bags) I was a hot, sweaty mess. I wear a lot less now, but the burn and the sweat has only gotten worse. I can't speak for any of the other LA Boxing sites across the country, but the gang over at the Mamaroneck is the nicest and most supportive bunch of merciless trainers I've ever met.

It's definitely been a blast. There I have a discipline to embrace versus just going to the gym to lift weights or run on a tread mill. I'm not in it to learn how to knock someone out. I just want the all over conditioning that comes with being a boxer. I'm not interested in turning back the clock. I want to age with strength and grace. At one point during my workout yesterday I was doubled over tasting my breakfast in my mouth and feeling my stomach churn. The owner, Dean, ran up on me and screamed, "What are you doin'? I didn't tell you to stop!" And I went right back into it because I have nothing to do but gain by boxing away my backfat. I get to be more alive for my kids and I get to fine tune this machine that I use to move through my days.

What my experience so far at LA Boxing has done is expose the following:

Bad Habits: 1) I can't stay up all night long (a current problem I'm battling) and think I'm going to waltz up in the gym first thing in the morning and pump out a mean performance. It's just not gonna happen; 2) Based on the sheets of sweat that come off of me, drinking fluids all day long (water and electrolytes) is a must; 3) Garbage in - garbage out: I've actually known this for the past 15 years but undoing my snacking of the past four years is not the easiest thing in the world to do. I've opted to correct this by snacking mostly on fruits.

My Age: I'm not who I was four years ago, so staying up all night long and waking up at the crack of dawn to work out just doesn't work. I accepted this about 3 weeks ago.
Other than that I've always been of the inclination that there is nothing I can't do, short of flying without being inside an airplane. As of this weekend I will be 7 weeks in and in a better place than I've been for a very long time. And as of yesterday I began my eventual mastery of skipping rope like a boxer --- something I've ALWAYS wanted to be able to do. So no, I'm not too old to be boxing. I'm not too old to do anything that I want and/or need to do. I've even got more motivation thanks to a family trip to the Caribbean scheduled for the end of this month. I'm trying to be as shirtless as possible while I'm away.

When relaying all this to a friend last night she remarked, "We all have that thing that works for us. I'm glad you found yours." If you have something that you want to do, or always have wanted to do I encourage you to pursue with all your heart, strength and spirit as much as time will allow. As far as I know we only get one go-round in these bodies of ours. Why pass on living life to the fullest? Do what you need to do to make your life richer. Everyone around you will benefit from it, just as I hope you will benefit from my journey as I check with you to update you on my backfat annihilation.


Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post. I have been provided with a complimentary membership to LA Boxing for a limited time period.

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I Put A Hit Out On My Son

Assassin's Creed: Towering Above The Rest
Photo Credit: Pricer45

Sometimes a boy needs to be made to understand that his father is a Man.

I didn't need much reminding growing up. My father had and still has huge hands, was always throwing concrete over his back, going upside my head or doing something ridiculously inhuman that had me half in awe of him and half resenting him.

Apartment living has limited my ability to work around the house the way I know how to. I inherited my father's strength but not his mitts. And I don't go upside anyone's head. I've talked about this often in the past on this blog. Maybe I'm scared of my own strength exacted against a child. Maybe I don't trust that my son is built like me, rock headed and willful enough to constantly bring on the wrath of a man the way I would incur the wrath of a country and civil rights bred man who's seen more than I'll ever see.

I also didn't have 300+ friends on Facebook cajoling me into thinking I was something special.

About a month ago (a few days before my son was diagnosed as being potentially learning disabled) I received a call from my son's high school. I sighed and debating answering but relented. I sighed again and took a deep breath:


"Hello, Mr. Payne...?" asked the school disciplinarian. The entire conversation went downhill from there. The news was that he had been fighting in the hallway and cutting classes. After I got off the phone I sank into my couch, closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I was so tired of getting calls from the school. I was so tired of not knowing what to do. I was so tired of being tired of this boy. I wasn't that upset about the fight. The disciplinarian couldn't even tell me who was involved or what caused it. She hadn't completed her "investigation" yet. I almost laughed when she told me this. For all I knew my son could've been defending himself. But the class cutting is what got me. It meant he had been lying to me about where he had been during the day. He hadn't been doing the only thing he was supposed to do: be a student.

Suddenly I felt all of my father's ways downloading into me from some unknown server somewhere. My body quaked with energy and anger. I began to pace. I started rubbing my hands, swollen from 2 weeks of boxing. I was breathing heavily as if I had run a race. I marched into his room and stripped it of all his electronic toys, but I left all the wires on the floor. I had the door half unhinged from it's frame when I realized I was bending the frame (as a renter this really isn't my place). After a few minutes of brainstorming I took out the doorknob and bolted the door to the wall behind it so it couldn't move. I turned his cellphone off and returned to the couch.

I sat there fuming feeling that I hadn't done enough. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted him to feel how angry I was and not just be a witness to it.

"I'm gonna kill him," I said out loud. "I'm gonna whoop his..."

Feeling completely out of control I put word out on the street via my wife. "He can't come here. Not while I'm here. If he doesn't I'm gonna break every piece of furniture in the living room because he's not making it through the front door on his feet...he's not even making it out of the hallway. Babygirl isn't going to understand what I'm doing to her brother. And I'm not tryin' to get thrown out of this building."

To this my wife, normally very protective of her son, not from her fury, but mine, simply said, "Okay."

A few minutes after that the plan was set. My father and law would pick him up and hold onto him while my wife came home from work. I'd get the girl and go somewhere for a while. She assured me she'd take care of it and asked me to leave a belt out on the bed.

That night I took my daughter to McD's where she bumped into a friend and they both had their faces painted. But not before I saw the boy. I was on my way out the door when I heard a timid knock. I flung open the door and looked him square in the eyes the way one does a nosy neighbor. He took a step back.

"What are you doing here?" I growled.

"Mom is downstairs with grandpa," he answered looking at the floor. My fists were balled but his sister was right behind me trying to say hello to him. I let him pass, picked her up and left my home immediately. I had almost gotten out without incident. But more importantly, he saw me... saw what was in my eyes and carnally understood his place at Casa del E.Payne.

After the smoke cleared it turned out that my son's cuts weren't cuts but a glitch in the school's attendance system. The fight was him horsing around in the hallway with a buddy from the football team, something just as inexcusable (but I understood how it happened). And the disciplinarian's investigation uncovered nothing but her bias toward my son as he was the only one who got punished. I held onto his stuff for a week, kept his phone off for a few days and kept his door open for a month. Just because I could. Just because he needed to know what will be waiting for him when he comes home should he choose to act silly out in public. Just like I did so many years ago.

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