Tim Carroll

Tim Carroll 

When it comes to addressing the current health crisis, citizens are hearing terms like social distancing, staying in place and self-quarantining. Apparently, in a twist of fate, children are now demanding that their elderly parents stay home.  

The virus outbreak and attempts to slow it down are serious business, which is why I offer one piece of advice. Tell all the people “they’re grounded!” It’s a phrase that every person over the age of 15 should clearly understand. They should know the rules and put up little argument if they don’t want to be double grounded.

Grounding was a fairly common occurrence in the Carroll household although my wife Ann insists that she spent the better part of her high school years being grounded for various infractions.

In my case, grounding was usually the outcome of a privilege gone wrong. “You can go to the movies but be home by 10,” said my mother. It was a simple request that was stretched or completely ignored by my teenage self. 

Getting grounded after a Friday night infraction was a bad choice because it meant spending the entire weekend at home. Saturday night missteps kept me home on Sunday, but that wasn’t so bad. Once I even tried to negotiate my way out of church on Sunday morning because I was grounded.  My motion was denied.

Grounding was sometimes accompanied by forced labor.  As judge and jury, my father might ground me, but my mother would add a distasteful task onto it like mowing the yard or picking weeds. I once clipped four quarters from my mother’s coin jar to buy some Matchbox cars. I got caught and had to pick 50 weeds. I even tried to rip them in half, but moms know about these things – busted again.

Of course, when grounding fell across a really important event like a friend’s birthday, I might complain and moan for a few days. Then I’d make my pitch to pick weeds or wash the car in lieu of being grounded.  I saw it more as a work release program.

Grounding was especially painful when the keys to the family car were involved. It was more painful losing access to the car than sitting around the house when I was 17. The guy with the car got to call all the shots. The guy without one got the back seat, literally.

Of course, breaking curfew was only one path to grounding. I talked back, stretched the truth about my homework on a few occasions and came home from the prom at 7 a.m., but that’s a story for another day.

The big difference between today’s “stay in place” and yesterday’s grounding is that no one is being punished in 2020. In fact, we are being asked to ground ourselves to help others. It’s a hard concept for some to understand – so maybe having Governor Abbott release a statement that everyone in the state is grounded will do the trick.

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