We are the sum of the choices that we make. We are a result of the challenges that we face. We are creatures of chance; chances that get bestowed on us by others or by fate.
J and I got up at 5am to make the 2.5 hour drive to J2’s school. We pick him up by 8:30 and then retrace our trail 10 miles back down the highway to make it to court by 9am.
We don’t say anything as we are all a bit nervous. Even though I had a few hours of sleep and decaf coffee , I was wide awake.
J suspected we will be in-and-out in no time. It’s a small county court. I am not so sure. Yeah, it is a small county court but I think we could end up listening to all manners of crimes which could mean J2’s case isn’t heard until 10 or 11, hopefully before noon.
We go inside the building, up to the 3rd floor. In a small hallway stands a police guard next to a metal detector. He’s moving slow, heck he’s gonna be there all day but after a 20 oz and a 3 hour drive I needed to use the restroom.
I come back and the Js have entered into court. I take my phone and keys out of my purse and then hand all three to the officer before I walk through the detector. He hands me back my purse, tells me to turn my phone off and that I need to check my phone in with him?
Whaaaaaaa? Fa realz.
He gives me a ticket for the phone and I head into the first room where a lady is behind a big desk.
“Are you here for court today? What is your name?”
I tell her I’m there for my son and give her his name. She points to another door to enter into court. I go inside to find the place filled. There were four rows of ten chairs facing the front. The only row of seats that were empty were behind a row of convicts in khaki jumpsuits and shackles. I guessed no one could sit there, but I didn’t want to anyway.
J is standing in the back of the small room and I move to stand beside him. J2 is sitting in the front row. He’s starting to look nervous. I think, “Good.”
Everyone is staring at the television in front of the room where a video of a judge was going over the rules of court and their rights. We came all this way and we get a video? I reach into my purse to tweet the absurdity of it and realize they have my phone. This must be the reason why.
Next to me is a black guy wearing jeans, a tank top and an open button down shirt. I thought that J2 was going to be the only one inappropriately dressed with his khaki shorts but he seems to have hit a sartorial high note whereas I was overdressed in a skirt, cardigan and pearls. I guess if there is a meet and greet with canapes after court then I would be good to go.
The court (stenographer? secretary?) comes in and the guy beside me starts to pant and salivate. I don’t know why she didn’t quit her job and run away with him right there, this alpha male seemed like a catch. How many dudes would catcall a woman working in court? Not many I’m sure.
In walks the judge and we get straight to business. The guy standing next to me was the first one up. He was charged with fishing without a license. The judge gives him 90 days in jail and restitution but suspends it for completion of 500 hundred hours of community service.
The guy was happy and took the plea. I look at J and mouth, “90 days in jail?” J looks back at me wide-eyed. Was J2 about to get stroked?
Next is a white guy. He was partners-in-crime with the white guy and agreed to the same deal that his friend got. But less than seven minutes later, after leaving to go sign the paperwork, the guy was back in the courtroom, this time in handcuffs. The guy had a change of heart and decided he didn’t want to do community service although he didn’t have full money for the fine right then.
The next few cases were domestic violence and DUI then it was J2’s turn before the judge. He pled guilty and the judge looked over his file because it seemed there should have been more to it. The judge asked J2 to sit down. A few more cases on domestic violence are resolved before J2 is called to the bench again.
The judge ordered J2 he just had to pay restitution and, it’s understood, that if he can get it paid off in a few months it won’t appear on this record.
We retrieve our phones and check that time. What seemed like hours only took 39 minutes. If they were anything, they were efficient.
“So were you scared?” J asked J2.
“I thought we were going to have to leave without you.” J said.
We all began to laugh with relief. We talked about the guy who decided he didn’t wanted to renegotiate community service and how he ended up in jail and his girlfriend exploded into a tantrum of expletives at the court workers.
“Did you notice what they had in common?” J inquired of J2.
J2 ran down a list of things: height, class, crime, demeanor? J said no to each of them.
“A lot of them knew each other,” J revealed. “Didn’t you notice that. Even if they didn’t come in together, most of the people in the courtroom were friends. It just goes to show that who you are friends with matters.”
“Which brings us,” I begin. “To choices, J2. Life is a series of choices and chances. You make choices, for good or bad, about what you want. You are an adult now. We aren’t going to be a buffer for you anymore. You have made some bad choices in your life, but there have been people who have believed in you and they have given you more than enough second chances. One day, you won’t have these chances. One day, the choices that you make will be your character. You just won’t be that kid that does stupid stuff, you will be who you have chosen. It’s up to you.”
I feel like I have given this speech to J2 a million times over the years in a myriad of variations. Each time I feel like he hears me and I believe he does until the next time it comes around.
As we pull up to J2’s dorm there is an hour until his next class. We remind hm that everyone makes mistakes but he needs to learn from his. We give him suggestions where to apply for summer employment and encourage him to do it now before the onslaught of procrastinating summer college students put their applications in. We find out when his last exam in and that he basically wants to be picked up immediately when it was done.
As he gets out of the car he says there won’t be a next time. I say ok to him which translated means we will see.
Check out my next post to discover what J2 did and to read my daughter’s opinion of life as an adult and parental guidance click here.