In which our young heroes learn a lesson about thinking ahead.
Last night my 16-year-old son Robert and his friends went to the "battle of the bands" at their high school. At about 9:30 they called me to pick them up. I arrived, but they didn't run over to the car. I shouted. They made obscure hand gestures. I shouted again. Robert came over to the car. "We can't go yet," he said. "We're trying to get Alec's backpack off the roof." Then he ran off again, leaving me blocking traffic in the pick-up lane. I parked my car and made my way over to the school, where I could see that there was indeed a student backpack on the school roof. It was only about 15 feet off the ground, but I could see that the arrangement of the roof would make it very difficult to climb. As I watched, several volunteers tried the ascent and failed.
I said, "How did Alec's backpack get on the roof?"
Robert said, "Um, I threw it there."
"Why did you do that?"
"I'm 16! I don't need a reason!"
Robert said that they had spoken to a teacher and he was certain that a janitor would be arriving any moment with a ladder to get the wayward pack down. I pointed out that it was 10 PM on a Friday night, and there was absolutely no chance that a school janitor with a ladder was going to appear. They still wanted to wait. I said, we'll get it down tomorrow. They were still hemming and hawing, so I walked to my car and started it. They ran over, and I drove everyone home.
This afternoon Robert, Alec and I went back to the school to retrieve the backpack. They were very nervous about carrying a ladder onto school grounds, which reminded me of the great advantages of being a grown-up. I know enough of the world to know that no one would really be mad, and that the kind of policemen and school officials who would use the affair as an excuse to yell at teenagers wouldn't yell at me.
So here I am, on the ladder, rake in hand, retrieving the backpack and handing it down to Robert:
So the backpack is safe and dry, and I don't think any of them will be throwing valuable things onto the school roof again any time soon.