FREE FALLING

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BOB WOELK
Hillsboro parents: Do you know where your children are? More importantly, do you know what they are doing?

One of the inevitable truths in life is that kids will, in fact, be kids. And teens will be teens. And that should scare you as parents.

As a teacher in your offsprings’ high school, I overhear all sorts of tales about weekend and after-school shenanigans. I dismiss much of what is said as simply antler rattling by the guys or hyperbole by the wannabe queens of teen.

Unfortunately, however, I believe much of what they say has at least a grain of truth in it.

That’s enough to scare me plenty.

I think it’s not only your right, but your duty as parents to keep track of your children whenever you can. Ask them what they are planning for the afternoon or evening, and while they likely won’t roll out a list of their anticipated activities, they might at least take a moment to consider the potential repercussions. And, that might be enough.

I get concerned when I hear students brag about how they nearly rolled a car the night before. They say things like, “Yeah, you can just get out and roll it back on its wheels.”

I have been told that seat belts aren’t necessary as students race around town or nearby unpaved roads because “I trust my friend. He’s a good driver. Besides, I can always brace myself when I see it coming.”

My response: Why do you think accidents are called “accidents”?

Nobody expects them.

I’m sure I have preached this sermon before. But, it’s that time of year again when young people spend more and more time outside.

Many of them hear the call of the keg. As I do my running around the areas outside of town, I find an increase in empty beer cans strewn along the roadways. I doubt if the local deer population is to blame, though that might explain why so many of them wander onto roads around here.

Eventually, our luck is going to run out. One of our youth, who often have the unfounded notion that they are invincible and immortal, will be seriously hurt or killed.

I’d like to believe that, while reckless behavior this time of year may be an inevitable rite of spring, a little common sense and some observant parents might be enough to avert a seemingly sure thing.

Are there other truths about life? Constants? Inevitabilities?

I’m so glad you asked.

Consider:

n High gas prices. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but I have to believe the fix is in. Here’s how it works. Our president is from Texas. His family has a well-documented alliance with the Saudis. Both locations are all about oil. Influential people in both places stand to make a great deal of money from high prices.

The idea is to raise the cost to a level that Americans can just barely afford. They will get used to the new price over time. The cost is lowered a bit to make everyone feel better. Then, it goes up to a new, higher level, and the cycle continues.

If that price drops below $2 per gallon, we will all be ecstatic, won’t we?

n A tax is a tax is a tax. Your state legislators have this great plan to increase school funding without raising taxes. The newest idea is to use profits from state-run casinos.

I find it interesting that the same people who don’t want to pay another nickel in taxes are willing to drop a quick $100 gambling.

I suppose legislators believe we have a short memory. However, I seem to recall how the state lottery was going to save us all a few years ago. What ever happened to that revenue windfall that was supposed to be applied to education and roads?

It’s also intriguing that many of our fine residents are embroiled in a moral battle over whether to teach evolution, but little is made of the moral and ethical consequences of gambling.

n If something important happens, “important people” will be there to take credit. How many of those VIPs at the Park City news conference had anything at all to do with the capture of BTK?

Wichita chiropractors must have made a bundle correcting all the spine injuries from the intense back-patting session that took place.

n In the Everything’s a Dollar store, not everything is a dollar. And by the way, the people in those “dollar” stores get really cranky if you walk around the store asking, “How much is this?”

n If you run more than 10 miles straight, chafing becomes of utmost concern.

n An English teacher substituting in algebra, as I was called on to do the other day, can feel completely helpless. It occurred to me that a math teacher probably knows enough about English to muddle his or her way through. The opposite certainly cannot be said about this English instructor. I was incapable of answering even the students’ most rudimentary questions.

n When remodeling, expect dust. I already knew that before we started tearing down plaster in our two largest rooms and replacing it with drywall. We thought about renting a storage shed and moving most of our furniture into it, considering we were tearing up our two largest rooms. But in the end we decided to move all our stuff into the half of the house that was not being overhauled.

We should have left the house and moved into a storage shed ourselves. As it was, we felt displaced anyway. It was kind of like moving from a double-wide into a single wide and then throwing a couple of handfuls of dust over everything each day.

We thought we were prepared for the dirt, but when we found fine powder on our glasses and plates in the kitchen cabinets, it was almost too much. How is it scientifically possible for dust to travel upstairs against gravity?

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