Mayor Dad and the Midnight Bed Time

After laying down the law on his kids at his house, blogger Tim Brennan draws comparisons to Mayor Riley laying down the law on bars and restaurants wanting to stay open past 12am on Upper King.

Last week I lost it. Control, that is.

Summer break had just begun for my pre-teen son and newly teen daughter. No longer could I rely on rules related to homework or getting to bed early on school nights. They knew they had freedom, and were determined to push every limit possible.

When you have one kid, you can play an easy zone defense. When you have two, you shift to a man on man, and hope experience trumps energy. We have a third, a two year old, and are playing a prevent D on tired legs. Hopefully you get the football analogy.

Well, the kids pushed just too far for me and my wife one night last week. We were losing control of them, and I found myself losing control of my emotions. So I did the unthinkable. “That’s it. You lose the computer and iPad for the entire Summer!” I declared. If you don’t have kids, you might think this is a good thing, and kids don’t need electronics. If you’re a parent, you’re thinking, “Idiot. You just destroyed your summer.”

My wife later reminded me that the kids need phones to reach us at various points during our summer travels, and that the school has summer assignments that have to be completed using the iPads.

The kids also formed defenses. Sadness. Mopey eyes. Then they attempted to do things for us. More chores. They were crafting a plan to work us for the right to get their electronics back. They astutely argued that we don’t always complete our adult chores and we may have a double standard. I’m pretty sure a petition was forming.

In the end, we reached a compromise that they will get their electronics back by earning them with extra studies, chores, etc. Actually, my wife worked that out. Mom saved them.

So the kids got their electronics back, in a limited way, and I let them know I can take them away again if necessary.

By now, you’re thinking, “this is an incredibly mundane story.” Yes it is. But it is also the story of the Midnight Ordinance.

I came to see Mayor Joe as our Dad in a 50’s era TV show. He’s got these out of town friends coming in for dinner, and a lot of neighbors looking through his windows. There are even businessmen coming to meet with him at his home. The last thing he wants is for his children to embarrass him. He needs his kids to behave. The financial growth of the family and his reputation are on the line. He can’t have his kids muck up his image.

We are his kids, and we are embarrassing him. He needs control, and a wake up call like a surprise Midnight Ordinance was similar to me taking away electronics.

“Unfair!” we yelled. “Why do other cities get to stay out late but we can’t?” we surmised. “We’ll find new ways to embarrass you,” we plotted. “We’ll run away and open our own late night bars in other parts of the town,” we schemed. “Or maybe we’ll just go out and hurt ourselves by driving while drunk or wandering bad parts of town and then how bad will you feel then, huh?” we thought.

That wasn’t all. We even made intelligent and thoughtful arguments. Imagine that.

Then mom stepped in. You know, “mom” is the one who doesn’t want her babies to be sad. She wants the love of her children. That’s our city council, which now seems to regret their initial support of the ordinance. “Perhaps there is another way,” she is telling Dad.

As kids, we think we may have won. We got mom on our side.

The thing is, in this case, dad doesn’t have to back down. Mayor Riley and the city council are heading for a separation at the end of this Mayoral term. They don’t have to get along. Mom gets custody, but dad can set some rules before he leaves.

An article in the Post and Courier quotes the Mayor as keeping to the plan and continuing the ban on new bars and restaurants.

So I hope the bars and restaurants don’t think they have won. It’s clear a midnight closing is a real threat that may hang over them for a while. Yet, it is only one of the tools that the Mayor and Police Chief have at their disposal. When a person walks home drunk and is picked up for public intoxication, if that person reveals who served them too much, that bar could lose their license pretty quickly. Then there won’t be a need for an ordinance. The number of bars may dwindle anyway while the city planners carve out a ratio of bars per city bock that feels right to them.

If you’re a bar owner on Upper King, you’re going to have to find ways to play nice and do some extra chores to avoid suffering dad’s next punishment. He’s got visitors coming over for dinner. Better brush up on your “yes sir’s” and “yes ma’ams.”

(Images via TheState, bravetart, Localterror, speiderschneider)