Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fellow Friends on the Journey of Parenthood

I am passing this along as another reason why we have to be diligent and work together to keep our kids safe. Who knows what could have happened at this party, although the mess and violation were certainly enough!
BTW The original email is getting responses from all over the country! Some are posted here as replies.
Frank Paolino

Dear fellow friends on the journey of parenthood,

Rob and I are writing to let you know about a party that happened at our house on Friday night, October 24th (the night the LHS party was canceled). Neither Rob nor I were home that night and we had no knowledge of the party. I went to a conference in New Bedford for the weekend, and Rob took our two daughters to Vermont to visit his mother for one night. Our son Noah asked if he could stay at the home of a friend for Friday night. I spoke with the mom and everything was all set. Noah and this friend then hoodwinked the mom and told her they were going to another friend's house to spend the night there instead. They invited a few friends over to our empty house for a party. Word of the party spread like wild fire and before long there were over 60 LHS teens (including seniors and some graduates) at our house.

When my husband got home Saturday afternoon he found the house a mess, despite their best efforts to clean. The floors were covered with dirt, grime, beer, and other substances. People had been throwing eggs, and there was egg goo all over the place. Our beds had all been slept in; one of the smoke detectors had been ripped out of the ceiling, and a thermostat had been destroyed. Two fire extinguishers had been discharged and thrown away. A nice BOSE radio/CD player and our 13 year-old daughter's womens black "Specialized" mountain bike had been stolen. My camera was found in a neighbor's yard. Our 9 year-old found a black bra in her bed. Other smaller things had been destroyed or stolen as well. The damages so far add up to well over $1,200, and Noah will be paying for everything.

Noah was charged with cleaning the entire house in a fashion that would please a USMC drill instructor. Cigarettes, pot, and beer cans were found in some amazing places. The word amongst his friends seems to be that Noah is not in trouble; this is not true. In addition to being grounded indefinitely, he'll be handing all of his job earnings over to us until all expenses have been paid off, and obviously Noah won't be having a social life for a long time. The good news is that our pet fish is still alive, and they ate all of our leftovers so at least they ate well!

Our reason for writing is that we believe that we parents are as much of a community as our kids are, hopefully even more so. The African saying "It takes a village to raise a child" is very appropriate here. We hope that we are teaching our children the meaning of community by our example, and that as a community of parents we want to send the loud and clear message that this type of behavior is absolutely unacceptable, no matter whose home it is. We're sending this email to any LHS parents who's email we happen to have. We would also like help in finding the black Specialized mountain bike and the Bose radio/CD player.

Please pass this along to other LHS parents who you think may want to know.

Thanks & Blessings,



Michele said...

While I don’t know you guys, I just want to say “thank you” for sharing your story with the Lexington community. I admire and respect what you have done to help the rest of us deal with the ups and downs of adolescence as we all try to figure out this crazy journey. I’m sorry for what happened to you but you have taught us all something. It takes a village and I am glad to be a part of yours…

Michele (mother of 2 middle schoolers…)

Diane said...

Your email was forwarded to me, although my son is a recent grad (and technically, I am no longer an LHS parent, at least for another two years, when my younger one will be a freshman).

I am horrified by what happened at your home, and admire your courage in bringing it to the forefront in our community. It is only when parents stand up to this unethical, illegal and nacceptable behavior that it will begin to change. And yes, it certainly does take a village to raise our kids.

Thank you for alerting the LHS community, and I hope it will open a much-needed dialogue among parents, faculty and Lexington residents.

Lynnell said...

Thank you for alerting the LHS community, and I hope it will open a much-needed dialogue among parents, faculty and Lexington residents.

I have forwarded your email to many LHS parents as well as the minister of our church, Follen, the youth advisors of our active Follen Youth Group (most are LHS students) and the Rabbi Jaffe at Temple Isaiah. I included the intro below that I sent.

Have you sent it to the Principal yet? I agree with you, it takes a village. And therefore, I strongly feel the school should know about this and work to stop this from happening again. If you have not told the school, I am willing to send emails to the principal, the counselors, the deans, the PTSA board, and the middle school principals. I think we need to confront this from all angles. By coincidence, I heard a disturbing comment this week from a new family in town. Their 10th grader wants to leave LHS since there is so much drug and alcohol use and sex at the school. Students have offered to sell this student drugs many times right after school lets out. I do not know if the staff are aware of this or not.

Thanks again for sharing your sad story. Hopefully your willingness to share this, will prevent it from happening in the future.

Ana & Andy said...

Thank you for sending out that email. We've all learned a lot from what happened to your family and home on the 24th. Our family will have a long discussion about the lessons to learn, including the lesson of helping others in our community by sharing information that helps keep children safe and healthy-- even when it means exposing ourselves to criticism and judgement.

In our view, you've turned a terrible incident into a teaching moment for an entire town. Thank God no one was physically injured and that the damage to your home was somewhat limited.

We look forward to parenting alongside you for a long time.

Bill said...

Things on the Internet have a way of getting around. I couldn't help but smile on my trip down memory lane. The same thing happened to me and my late wife back in the early eighties in Laytonsville Maryland. We had moved a few years with our 14 year old daughter into our into our custom built home (designed and built by me). My wife had a conference in New Orleans, so we put our daughter in another town with a girlfriend and her parents. The girls faked an overnight and went to our house. Parents delivered their kids to our house for my daughters "birthday overnight". Not a single parent checked to see if we were home when they dropped their daughters off. The resulting party was so big that one of the neighbor kids went in search of the rumored party, and when he couldn't find it, came back home only to be blocked by the traffic.

There was a van selling beer in the driveway. There was a keg in our laundry room. The wood floors had to be refinished because of the sticky beer and liquor on it. The furniture was scratched (they broke bottles on the dining room table....fortunately it was Old English distressed anyway. We found a bag of white powder in the kitchen cabinet. They threw up on our velvet drapes. Porn movies were being played on our VCR. The slate front walk was ripped up. The pool cover was removed. I'm sure stuff happened that I'll never know about. The police did break it up when our neighbors realized we were not at home. We pulled beer bottles out of the rain gutters years later.

Our daughter paid for the damages in money and grounding. She is now a very successful medical sales person in Los Angeles. I sent your story to her, for laughs.

Don't despair. Nobody died. You will laugh about it some day 20+ years from now with your grandchildren (if your kid is not still grounded).

Since we no longer trusted our daughter and her friends, we kept a very close eye on where she went and who she was with. Subsequently, three of her friends died of alcohol-related auto accidents....in three separate incidents. We also coaxed her to hang with a different crowd. She was subsequently elected to a student government office, along with her new friends. It also helped that we sent her to work to keep her busy. One year she had six W-2s. She was working three jobs at a time and still stayed on the honor roll. Today she is richer than I will ever be.

Stay on his case. My daughter's friends later told us that we couldn't be fooled like their parents. Your job is to be a parent, not a friend. It you want a friend, get a dog. Your son will appreciate your efforts.

Allison Cote said...

I am Frank's wife, Allison, and we are parents to 3 teenagers ( 17, 16, 15) as well as an 11 yr old. This story was so eye opening! we host many teens at our house and are always surprised by the lack of parents who call to make sure we are home. I am guilty of not calling for my senior unless it is a "big" party as once they are driving it is really hard to know exactly where they are. Kids really need a safe home where they are welcome to make noise, eat food and have good clean fun - I hope if they are offered other choices they may actually enjoy these choices and realize they have many years ahead to drink and party legally.

Lynn said...

It's wild that this has been around the country and back in just a few short weeks. We heard about the party the night it was happening, but did not know how out of control it got until we got the email from the family. Unfortunately, this situation is rampant in Lexington, along with kids "borrowing" houses of friends whose families are away (along the friend him/herself), so there is nobody from the home present.

I have no less than 10 teenagers in my house every weekend. They know they are welcome, that there will always be food, and some even hang here when my son is not here! They also know that we call their parents if we find them engaged in illicit behavior - (beer, for example, with us sitting upstairs) Funny - they seem to come back, on good behavior, but when that same behavior takes place in their homes, the parents don't call! Even after they thank us for sharing with them! Weird.

Needless to say that the teen thing is quite a ride.

Thanks for forwarding this to me - Great Blog!

Suzanne said...

I have a senior at LHS and two children at Harrington and am the PTA President there. I received your e-mail notice today about the party your son hosted on October 24th. First, I am sure that this has caused all of you frustration, anger, shame and more emotions and I am sorry that all of you have had to have that experience. I applaud your honesty and courage to tell us all. I whole heartedly believe that good kids with good parents make bad choices. Your courage and actions speak to that. Thank you for reaching out to the community. I think that transparency among the parents will serve us all very well. We are all in this together.