The general theory of relevance | Rudi Alcott

Recently, I was talking to one of my good friends at Highline Community College, and he asked me if I had crossed the threshold.

The threshold of what? Too much gray hair? Impotence? If it was the latter, I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. In fact, I know I don’t.

No, it was the threshold of becoming stone-cold stupid in the eyes of my boys. And, indeed this had occurred, just two weeks prior. To say this has happened in the eyes of my boys is like saying the Titanic sprung a leak. Just a bit of an understatement.

So where did it all go wrong? In this sojourn of parenting, for which there is no return ticket, at what point did I lose my way? Perhaps my GPS unit needs calibrating.

Look, I get that I’m not the smartest adult male on the planet, but I also didn’t spring from the womb fully trained. I had to do something correct to get me to this point, right?

Two years ago, I could have told them the sky was orange and you could eat dirt for your entire daily food intake, and they would have accepted that without hesitation. Advance two years, and now I am as dumb as a, well, box of dirt.

As most things go in my life, when it gets interesting, I make a game out of it. What I lack for in book smarts, I make up for in street smarts. So, I have outflanked them. I came up with a game-changing set of rules that not even they can argue with. Of course, their initial reaction was that this was simple. A wise person once said that it might be simple, but it’s not easy. They will find out the difference soon enough.

So what were the tactics? By way of brief history, up until now, I have been somewhat of an A-type personality. I’m sure that comes as no shock to anyone. As you can imagine, the house was run with this type of structure. Teenage boys tend to miss the finer points of life like making their bed, picking up their rooms, and showering. This doesn’t get missed by an A-type, but it does now. No longer does word get mentioned when they run out of clothes. They know where the washer and dryer are and how to press start.

They want to crawl out of their rooms over the piles? No problem. I shut the door. Let them learn for themselves how this is going to work when they go get a wife.

My rules are all top level now. The rest I let go. These rules, however, are non-negotiable. There’s a value to everything. The currency is more freedom for the following:

• At a bare minimum, they have to graduate high school. Without a high school education they are doomed to second-class citizenship. Nowhere does it say that have to get straight A’s — just graduate at or above the rules as set forth by the state of Washington. Advanced education is at their discretion. I will pay for it, but if I do, we will talk about the grade thing then.

• No addiction to drugs or alcohol. This is a game changer. It can and likely will ruin your life. It doesn’t say that they can’t sample this. They probably will. I get that. Every parent should. No one knows if they are an addict until after that first indulgence. After that, it is simply a choice. I have never taken the indulgence. I don’t want to ever have to make that choice.

• No one gets pregnant or gets anyone pregnant until out of the house. We were in our early 30s before we had kids. It is tough now in my mid-40s. I can’t imagine raising kids in my teenage years.

• No felonies. This takes away your opportunities to get a good job, vote, and run for office, to name a few. The irony of running for office and a felony in the same sentence has not escaped me.

• No one gets their car wrapped around a telephone pole/gets dead. I have way too much invested in this. At the very least, I’ll demand a refund for my return on investment.

Five simple rules, yet a lifetime of knowledge. Perhaps I should look into that dirt eating issue. My food bill would certainly decrease. Nah, it’s too simple.


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