Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Daring to have “pre’s”! September 7, 2012

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party streamersRecently the boys made a rare request to host a “gathering” at our house. Not a party, but a “gathering”. If you have kept up to date with all my glossaries of teenage speak, you will know this is a small group of adolescents, gathered together for a social occasion, most definitely NOT a party (or so they will have you believe). This particular gathering was even more specific, in so far as it was actually for “pre’s” (again refer the glossary for the definition, but it’s what we knew as pre-party drinks).

The boys have not actually asked to host pre’s before, or even a gathering. I suspect it’s because they have what they would call the “world’s strictest parents”, and they just didn’t feel it was going to be considered, or they were too embarrassed to even have people here? Whatever the reason, it transpired that there was a party on in our neighbourhood that they were both invited to (in itself a rare event given their diverse circles of friends) and it was opportune to stop in for an hour or so for some pre-party drinks.

Now savvy Australian readers of my blog will know that to host a party and serve alcohol to under-age teenagers actually requires parental permission or the risk of a fine. You may well pass judgement on us, but we did allow our boys to host “pre’s” for a couple of hours at our home. For the record it was strictly BYO, we didn’t supply it to them. The party they were going to was also allowing them to all take in alcohol in “limited” quantities. So where would we rather they consume the alcohol? Certainly here is preferable to the local park (sound familiar)? And the advantage of hosting it was offering to supply food to the small number of attendees – there-in filling their stomachs and soaking up some of the alcohol. 🙂

The plan was naturally for Mother of a Man-Child, Father of a Man-Child and Sister of a Man-Child to make themselves extremely scarce, freeing up the family room as party central. One of the men-children not so subtly convinced me that the room needed to be de-cluttered (interpretation – can we remove all of 9-year-old Sister of a Man-Child’s artwork and toys from the room?). I explained that none of his friends would even notice it, but also agreed that we could remove it temporarily – it’s important when you’re a teenager to fit in remember. This stuff counts to some of them. His twin brother, being the exact opposite, was so laid back about the gathering he turned up 30 mins after all his friends and didn’t care where in the house they all gathered!!!

Suffice to say the pre’s were deemed successful. They all seemed to have a great time, and weren’t phased by the occasional presence of us in the kitchen. Sister of a Man-Child was adored by the teenage girls (“she’s so cute”), and Father of a Man-Child couldn’t resist talking to the pretty fillies, dressed up in fancy dress with plenty of bare flesh on display. He seemed to win a few fans himself! I played caterer and taxi driver to ensure they all made it to the party safely. And we notched up yet another milestone with our boys.

So, did we do the wrong thing? Certainly according to the law, we did. But with boys who are now old enough to drive a car, and boys who we know drink alcohol, are we just accepting that they are growing up? I guess it’s each to his own, for both parents and kids. I know some of my friends’ kids have less active social lives than my boys. Lucky them I say – there’s no rush to be an adult. But for us, this felt okay to do, and we made a decision and used our best judgement. And that’s what being a parent is, feeling your way every day, and facing new challenges with the breaking of every dawn. Sometimes it’s nice to see dusk trust me!

For the record, we have said no before, when one asked to host “pre’s” before the Spring Carnival races one year. Not on your nelly was the reply and for very good reason!!!! Read about it here.

 

Glossary of teenage speak: Part IV August 31, 2012

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dictionaryIt’s been quite a while since my last glossary instalment.  For those who want to understand what teenagers are actually talking about, read on.

Not surprisingly, most of the current glossary terms revolve around the things that occupy the lives of 16-year-old boys – their social life outside of school, and it would appear the list of vices that accompany that life!!!

  • “Chons” = punch-ons.  As in fisty-cuffs, fighting.  The stuff my boys do to each other most nights.
  • “Deck” = pack of cigarettes.  If they can’t afford them they smoke rollies apparently.
  • “Darts” = cigarettes.  Interestingly, we called them darts when I was younger too.
  • “Dope” = cool.  Apparently this was around years ago, but it’s only recently surfaced with my boys, now they’re teenagers, so it was new to me.  I suppose I should be thankful it’s not the real dope, otherwise known as “bud”.

Then we hit the alcohol:

  • “Pre’s” = pre-party drinks.  We called it a “pre-party” in my day, especially before formals; they have just shortened it further to “pre’s”.
  • “Frothies” = beers.  Pretty self-explanatory!
  • “Goon” = cask wine.  Apparently the drink of choice amongst many girls, because it’s cheap of course!
  • “Straight” = spirits.
  • “Jimmies” = Jim Beam (definitely a popular choice amongst the boys along with Coca Cola).   I am very familiar with this – the dishwasher recently had six glasses neatly lined up after we’d been away for the night, and one of the men-children had stayed at home.  The Jim Beam and Coke remnants were a tell-tale sign he had hosted “Pre’s” (see above).

And then the random and bizarre:

  • “Gacked” = drug-F-ed, but loosely also used to mean hammered.  Commonly heard as “We’re getting gacked”, and they assure me for the latter not the former.
  • “Rawt” = steal.  So apparently you might hear someone say “Went for a rawt at Bunnings”!!  I damn well hope that’s not my boys.

If you feel you need further education, you can read my earlier glossary instalments here: Glossary Part II and Part III.  And my first post on the subject: Deciphering Man-Child Language.

And if you have any gems to add to the list, please drop me a line.  🙂

 

Evaporating alcohol supplies? August 10, 2012

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vodkaLike the average Australian household, we have a range of alcohol in our home.  Always a supply of beer and wine in the grog fridge in the shed (very Aussie I know), as well as an assortment of spirits, some bought purely for that dessert recipe that required brandy, or sherry for an Asian marinade, but most as duty-free gifts from visiting friends or relatives.

As a result we seemed to have an endless supply of unopened bottles of gin and vodka in the fridge.  It’s not that we don’t drink it, but for some reason it seems to be our preferred drink of choice when we go on holidays, not at home.  Who doesn’t love a G&T or Bloody Mary when you’re on holidays and the late afternoon cocktail hour comes around (okay, so sometimes cocktail hour starts at midday on holidays, but who’s watching the time anyway)?  It’s almost anathema to have a holiday without one.

So at home, the bottles of gin and vodka sit unloved for most of the time, alongside the ever replenished supply of beer and wine.  Well at least we thought they were unloved, until recently!!  Father of a Man-Child must have been doing a fridge clean out (maybe making room for dinner party food and wine), and obviously noticed our unopened bottles looking a bit light on.  No doubt he considered a number of possibilities:

  • The alcohol has miraculously evaporated, even with the lid firmly on and sealed?
  • Mother of a Man-Child has turned into one of those awful alcoholics who necks vodka for breakfast (a possibility given teenagers living in the house)!
  • The Men-Children have discovered the untapped delights of Mum & Dad’s grog supply.

Now which option would you bet on????

Naturally, he approached the Men-Children, who both vehemently denied it the first time around.  When the trend continued, he approached them again.  One was adamant it wasn’t him, the other one, not quite so…….bingo, suspect identified.  He eventually admitted that his friends and he had on occasion helped themselves to a few pre-party slugs.  Don’t worry, his brother isn’t all innocence.  He was once caught with beers under the bed at the holiday house, and another time heard walking down the hallway “clinking”.

Whilst it’s not surprising that they have been into our supplies, it is surprising that they haven’t tried the age-old trick of adding water to the gin and vodka bottles so their “idiot parents” don’t even realise they have consumed any.  Or in the case of scotch, black tea of course.  I can imagine a little watered down gin or vodka might go unnoticed by the taste buds, but a scotch drinker would surely notice black tea?

Naturally, my parents were twice as smart when it came to checking if we had thought to do the same with their grog supply many years back.  They didn’t just mark the amount in the bottles so they could tell if anyone had been drinking it, my father turned the bottle upside down and then marked it, which meant we looked at it and thought, oh good, they’ve drunk past the line and forgotten to add a new mark, so we won’t be caught……Doh!!!!  (I can only assume he learned this trick from his father.  I suppose when you come from a long line of Catholics it’s no surprise is it?)

My parents’ smarts continued the time I took my mother’s car for a “joy-ride” to Portsea for the day, never even thinking my astute father would have checked the speedometer before they left for an outing.  I had permission to drive the car, but not on a 200km round trip!  The speedo coupled with my extremely sunburnt forehead from driving with the sunroof open on a hot summer’s day was a complete giveaway, but hey, it was worth it for the chance to be uber cool for a few hours! 🙂

So the upshot with the boys?  We didn’t empty all the bottles in front of them and say “there, that’s solved that problem” did we.  Certainly not, we don’t want to waste good alcohol, and one day we might want a G&T or Bloody Mary at home.  We just told them that it wasn’t theirs to drink, and please stop helping yourself to our supplies.  In other words – buy your own!!  We are not naive, teenagers of 16 years old drink, and have many ways to get their supplies.  We don’t ask how, as we simply would rather not know.

Tell me, what tricks did your parents use at home to stop their teenagers hopping into the family stash?   Of if you have children, have you decided to live like a monk and abstain from having alcohol in the house, or simply put a padlock on the grog fridge?

Read about the time I found beers under the bed.  New Years Eve at Portsea – 30 Years On.

 

Post-Script to Home Alone January 13, 2012

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beersOkay, I admit it.  Perhaps the men-children are more mature than I thought?  After leaving them at home alone last weekend, unsupervised for 48 hours, it appears that nothing untoward took place, and our house remains unscathed.  Maybe, just maybe, the boys can be trusted more than I have given them credit for?  Then again, maybe they just know that the price of failing our trust test was just too great, so they chose to toe the line?

Father of a Man-Child made the decision to tell one of the boys of our absence mid afternoon on Friday.  He said we were away Friday night and POSSIBLY Saturday night but we weren’t sure (sneaky I know).  In a twist of fortune quite frankly, his brother didn’t know until about 6pm when we were well on our way to our destination, and far too late for him to organise anything significant. 🙂

Father of a Man-Child also left strict written instructions for them (then they can’t say they didn’t understand what you said can they?):

  • No sleep overs allowed with no parents present
  • No gatherings of more than 5 people (read per man-child)
  • No alcohol permitted with no parents present
  • Curfew of 12.30am for all friends to leave our home

We sent a couple of text messages, just to establish their movements on Friday night – both home, alone, very boring indeed.  On Saturday afternoon, a casual text arrives from one of the boys:  “Are you coming back tonight?” instantly sending one’s imagination into overdrive as you would expect.

We discussed the response options open to us:

  • Yep, we’ll be home later today (thereby killing any party plans, whether or not we actually planned to arrive home)
  • Not sure, we’ll let you know later (ditto above)
  • Why, are you planning something you shouldn’t be? (like he would tell us)
  • No, we are staying another night.  We could bullshit you but instead we are trusting you.  Don’t let us down (that was my actual response)!!

So, we decided to trust them, and we decided to let them have some fun.  We actually rang them late on Saturday night (yep, mid party) to speak to both of them.  One had a few mates over, and one had his usual “harem” of girls over (including his girlfriend of course).  It all sounded under control, with no slurring of their words evident, so at least we didn’t need to panic.  Whilst we had requested that they have no sleepovers in our absence, we also confirmed with both of them that they were indeed having a couple of mates to stay – yep, totally inconsistent, but how exactly were we planning on enforcing it from 3 hours away?  At least that way we knew what was happening.

We arrived home to a relatively normal house.  No signs of it being cleaned to within an inch of it’s life, no breakages, no empties lying about, nothing really out of the ordinary.  Father of a Man-Child says he found a few “rollie” stubs in the backyard – and promptly threw out the evidence before I could do the smell test!!!  He thinks they were smoking tobacco – I am not quite so sure….

Our neighbour dropped by and actually complemented the boys on being well behaved in our absence.  As a father (survivor) of two boys who are both now past their teens, I found that very comforting indeed.

So there you have it.  I know it’s not very exciting blog material is it?  It would make for a much better read if there was a scandalous story about some wild party at our house, with major mishaps thrown in for good measure.  But then again, it’s also a refreshing change, and a sign that perhaps my little darlings are coming of age, slowly but surely, and that there is a small but visible light glowing at the end of the adolescent tunnel. 🙂

In case you missed the pre-cursor to this story, you can read it here:  Men-Children alone in the house for a weekend 

 

Teenage Torture Techniques November 18, 2011

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Before you worry that we are monster parents who are torturing our men-children, it’s quite the opposite.  We are regular victims of “Teenage Torture”, a tried and true technique used by adolescents to wear down their parents when a decision is not considered favourable.

We all know that as a parent one of our key responsibilities is to make good decisions on behalf of our children.  This is especially true when they are very young, and are completely dependent on you for everything.  As children get older, there is a slow and eventual shift to their own decision-making, and along the way you hope you have provided them with the right guidance, but also an understanding of how to make decisions that are on the whole the right one, based on considered thought and reasonably sound judgement.

And somewhere along this spectrum is the difficult teenage period, when they think you don’t understand them at all, and that you don’t know anything, (no we’ve never been a teenager have we?) yet somehow you are able to make decisions on their behalf.    A couple of recent cases in point, which have caused a fair amount of discussion/debate/angst in our house:

Pre-drinks on race day:

You would have read recently that we had to be very firm and put our foot down to stop a bunch of teenage boys descending on our home recently ahead of a Melbourne Cup Carnival race meeting.  If they’d been allowed to, they all would have bought along a 6 pack of beers and sculled them before going to the races.  Thankfully we quoted recent legislation that meant we could be fined $7,000 if we gave underage kids alcohol without parental consent so we were saved.  But we had to withstand over a week of pressure from Man-Child I to relent.

Christmas Holidaysfireworks

We recently decided that our planned Christmas holiday was going ahead.  For most, a trip to Sydney to see the sights would be exciting to say the least, especially when it includes such icons as Bondi Beach, and the Coat Hanger bridge.  However, when the said holiday includes New Years Eve then the trouble starts.  The objections list went like this:

  • “What do you mean we’ll be in Sydney for NYE?”  (OMG, my life as I know it is over, I have to spend NYE with my PARENTS)!!!
  • “We have plans already” (about staying up all night and how much we’re going to drink)!
  • “Can’t you just send us home on an earlier flight so we can be with our friends?” (and use the empty house for a great party).
  • “You can call our mobiles whenever you want to find out where we are” (they won’t know we’re not at home when they call).

Now I don’t know about you, but the men-children are 15 (almost 16 and yes going on 25), but we just don’t think it’s a responsible decision to allow them to fly home 3 days before us, and then to allow them to head off somewhere for a NYE party.  It’s not a responsibility we want to pass onto anyone else, and we’re just not prepared to do it.  We did explain our decision to them, and the reasons for it.  The timing of the holiday is driven by my new job, which dictates when we can take the break.  We also explained it may be the last time they want to come with us for a family holiday (unless of course we pick a nice exotic destination), and that there’s plenty more NYE’s to come.  But as I remember all too clearly, at 15 all you want to do is be with your friends, and NYE does seem to take on some ridiculous mantle of excitement and superiority over any other night of the year for some reason.  As we all know, when you get older you can’t even be bothered staying up until midnight sometimes.

Alas, having made the decision and booked the flights (totally committing us) we are now enduring “Teenage Torture”.  At 7am the other morning, just as I had finished making the school lunches, and was wolfing down breakfast, Man-Child II appeared to raise the subject again.  “Why can’t we fly home from Sydney early”…..etc etc (see above).  I don’t expect we’ve heard the last of it.  Likely it will be a common theme running right up to Christmas.  It reminds me of the days of toddlers, and tantrums, and the constant nagging in the hope you would just say “here, have the bloody thing and now shut up would you!”.

Girlfriend Sleepovers

The other great point for debate has been over having the girlfriend to stay over.  And we’re not just wanting her to stay at our house, but in his room and in his bed.  Call me prudish, but that just is NOT happening now.  They are still only 15!! To make matters worse, it seems this is now allowed at her house since they have been officially GF/BF.  Hmmm, not happy to learn about that either.  Both Father of a Man-Child and I are adamant on this, and refuse to give in, at least until he gets a bit older, and if they’ve been going out for longer than two months!  Nevertheless, the Teenage Torture methods are again being employed.  Man-Child II appears at odd times to subtly bring up the conversation yet again.

  • Can she stay over on x night?  Yes sure.
  • Where will she sleep?  Downstairs.
  • Why can’t she stay in my room, with my other mate too?   Because he’ll be on the floor and she’ll be in your bed.  No.
  • Are you serious?  Yes.  Then don’t have her to stay at all.

Teenage Torture is relentless.  It’s constant, always there, ready to test your resolve, looking for a moment of weakness in the event you might just change your mind.  The best remedy is Parental Persistence – just don’t give in once you’ve made up your mind.  It’s exhausting, but sometimes we just know best (don’t we?)!

Please tell me, are we wrong?  Are we being too prudish?  Does it really matter if the GF stays?  Should we lose an occasional battle to win the war?  Or stick to our guns?  Help!!!

In case you missed the related stories:  The Races and Girlfriend Sleepovers

 

Boozy late night tales November 11, 2011

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horseThere are two things that make it difficult for my sons to get away with much:  one is on the occasions they are impeded by alcohol and therefore their judgement is very impaired, and the other is that I am way smarter than them!!

As most would know we’ve just had the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, which both the men-children attended with friends.  They did look rather dashing in their suits, along with 15 of Man-Child I’s friends who congregated at our house beforehand.  Man-Child I had previously asked me if he could have a handful of friends here for “pres” (that’s pre-event drinks for those not in the know), to which I was delighted to cite the new Victorian laws that make it illegal to allow minors to consume alcohol in a private house without the express permission of all parents.  No matter how much he tried to get around it, he was met with legal red tape and the threat of a $7,000 fine for us.  We declared a small victory on this occasion – just.

Granted on the day as I served chicken sandwiches in the warm afternoon sun I thought a cold beer would be perfect to wash down the said sambos, but the reality was their idea of “pres” was bringing a six-pack each of beers and sculling them in record time before heading off on the train to the racetrack.  As we tried to point out to our boys, if one of them then fell under a train we would be legally culpable.  And trust me, where there’s a will there’s a way – I’m sure they all managed a few drinks that afternoon and later in the night at the after parties (which is exactly where one of ours went)!

As is standard, we ask the boys to be home at a certain time, if they are out at a party.  Normally, the “curfew” is around 11.30pm, or midnight at the latest.  Which would be why at 1.30am last Sunday morning I texted Man-Child I to find out where he was, especially since he had a mate who planned to stay over here.   (Now I know how much worry I caused my parents when I was out later than expected, especially being a girl).   As he had spent the afternoon trackside at the races we were adamant that he come home for the night, thereby ensuring that he had to be in a reasonable state upon arriving home (yes, totally premeditated).

Not surprisingly, we had a quick text exchange:

Me: Where are you?  This is not 12ish!!

M-C: I’m at (friends), waiting for a cab…..

Me: You said (friend) was staying here.  Why are you at his place if you went to a party?

M-C: Can I just stay here? 

Me: Taxis don’t take 1.5 hours

M-C: We got a lift back here.

This is when I pick up the phone for a quick chat.  And then it starts to unravel.

Me:  Why aren’t you home?

M-C:  Can’t I just stay there? (Hmmm, why is he not saying “here” if he’s already there???)

Me:  Put on (friend), I want to talk to him (very trusting aren’t I?)

M-C’s friend:  Hello (Mother of Man-Child)

Me:  Why can I hear a tram?  (Knowing he doesn’t live near one!!).  Put MC back on please.

Me:  If you are waiting for a cab, I will come and pick you up now (oh, very clever). 

M-C:  Stunned silence…..Ah, I’m not there.  I’m waiting for a taxi (yep, sprung).

Me:  Get your arse home, in a taxi now, and then send your friend on his way.  And don’t lie to me next time.

30 minutes later I hear Man-Child at the front door, then back door, then front door again, texting me because he doesn’t have a key.  Given the state he was in, I doubt he could have got the key in the lock anyway.  He seemed to have an unquenchable thirst the next day too for some reason!!  Hmmm, we all know what that’s like don’t we?

The moral for my Men-Children:  don’t lie, I always find out.  And don’t lie when you’ve had a few – you make it too easy!!! 🙂

It’s not our first encounter with alcohol, naturally.  You can read more here: She Knows Everything.

 

Drug and Alcohol Education – the unofficial kind! August 19, 2011

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bongThis week I attended the Cannabis Education evening at the school of the men-children.  They thought it was a good idea to talk about drug use to Year 9 parents and boys, having covered off Alcohol Education last year.  We had a presentation by the local Drug Support program, and the local Youth Affairs Police Officer.  Little did they know that sitting in the audience was the mother of a man-child whom they had both had the pleasure of meeting almost one year earlier!!

Below I have published the post that I drafted a year ago, when one of the men-children decided to experiment with cannabis (for obvious reasons I couldn’t bring myself to publish it at the time).  Looking back, I am convinced we handled the situation appropriately.  To the best of my knowledge our son has not continued to experiment with cannabis, and I think he learned a lot through the process.

Original Draft Post (November 2010): 

We’ve endured some interesting events on the journey to date that is adolescence.  Parties, gatherings, girlfriends, shoplifting, meetings with the school, smoking cigarettes, sneaking out at midnight, uninvited guests at 3am, and so the list goes on.  With each new event we seem to exhale with a “well that should be the worst of it shouldn’t it”, a glimmer of hope, but a sense of the inevitable.

And so our latest hurdle.  Man-Child II arrived home on a recent Saturday afternoon after being out all day with friends.  He was happily (unusual in itself) sharing details of where he’d been, and with whom, when I noticed his words were slurred, and he could hardly keep his eyelids open.  My first instinct was of course alcohol, but I couldn’t smell it on him at all.  My second instinct was dope – and unfortunately it seems I was right.

Now both alcohol and marijuana are drugs – but one is highly illegal and one is legal (for those of adult age of course).  The use of either by my 14-year-old son scared me, but more so dope, because you don’t find kids “pushing” alcohol to fund their habit the way you do drugs do you?

Naturally Man-Child II initially denied all usage to my face, but claimed he had been with others smoking dope and therefore he smelt of it and was mildly affected – yeah, right!  Seriously, do they really think any parent with a brain bigger than a goldfish would believe that?

He wasn’t in much of a state to talk (yes what you call totally “stoned”), and for obvious reasons wasn’t forthcoming with any associates names, so off to bed he went.  We actually called the police to check what we should do (we were more than happy to haul him down to the local station for a good talking to on the spot).  They were very interested to know his age, and school – no doubt looking for patterns in usage and known users.  They asked us to bring him down to the station at a later date for a meeting, and also advised us they offer a counselling service where they work with young teens to try to encourage them not to use drugs so they would be referring our son to them.  Perfect!

In the meantime, there was instant punishment dealt out (“you can forget the long-planned Halloween party”) and we had to endure 24 hours of pleading, begging, cajoling, crying, tantrums and text messages to try to make us relent.  But we held our ground and he didn’t attend the party – a minor victory for the parents.

I also had a conversation with Man-Child II to actually ask if he knew what effects drug use had (for irregular and regular users).  He was a little vague so I set him straight.  And I also explained how the classic pyramid selling worked, and why people he didn’t know well were more than happy to give him free drugs with a view to recruiting him longer term.   That seemed to make him think.

I am hoping that the meeting will involve the police scaring the absolute crap out of him (a la Man-Child I’s run in with the law over shoplifting) so he’ll be put off for another few years at least, and that the counselling session will have the desired educational effect.  And if I find out who exactly was kind enough to share the drugs with my son, they should be more worried about me finding them than the police.

Post-Script (August 2011): 

Our man-child did meet with the local police officer, and did attend the drug counselling program as instructed by the police.  He was told if he didn’t attend the program there would be serious consequences for him.  To his credit he took himself off for several appointments as required.  He didn’t share what went on at the sessions, and nor did he need to – it was between our son and the counsellor and we were pretty sure he was in good hands.

When I arrived home last night from the school I mentioned the name of the local policeman and the counsellor who had attended the evening.  Man-Child II nearly died of fright when he realized it was one and the same, as he is obviously known to them.  The fact is he has nothing to fear.  He has learned his lesson, and I hope is actually one step ahead of some of his peers, who haven’t yet been given the skills or life lessons to equip them with the ability to make the right choices when exposed to drugs.

You can read about Man-Child I’s brush with the law here: “An Arresting Story”.