Okay, I just went insane. I’m sitting here at my desk, yelling at my computer. Because someone just sent me a link to the story about Star-Telegram columnist Dave Lieber getting arrested for child abandonment. I gotta tell you, Lieber has driven me nervous. I’ve got a full-blown case of the howling fantods about what this guy did — but not for ditching his kid. Let’s jump, because this is gonna require some space.
The facts: the other day, Lieber was eating breakfast at a restaurant with his son, who is 11 years old. The age of reason, if you’re scoring at home, is 7. This restaurant was a few blocks from the Lieber house. And Lieber the younger, by his father’s account, was acting like a pill. He wouldn’t let Dad finish his breakfast in peace. He was ready to leave. NOW. So, after repeatedly asking the kid to be patient, Lieber ditched him. Got in his car and left. He was gone for “several minutes.” In the morning.
I say bully on you, Dave Lieber. Good show. The kid had it coming. As a parent, you’ve got to let those jerks who live in your house know that you mean business. When you count to three, if they haven’t done what needs doing by three, then there’s a price to be paid. It’s up to you whether that’s a hand to the rump or a pulled plug on the Wii.
Just so in this case. Lieber asked his kid to get a grip. Repeatedly. And then he showed that kid that his bad behavior had made him an unsuitable driving companion. Walk home, junior. On the way, think about the apology you’ll make when you walk through the front door.
Listen, my mother did exactly this same thing to me. I was 7 or 8. We were eating at a McDonald’s (I think) on Ross Avenue — excuse me, Cesar Chavez Avenue. [barf, cough, spit] I was being a brat. Neither my mom nor I can recall exactly what form this brattiness took. But she finally said something to the effect of: “Get in the car right now, or I’m leaving without you.” I didn’t, and she did.
So I plopped down and started to wait. Because I knew she’d be back. At least I thought she’d come back. Mom will come back, right?
Oh, of course she came back. Time ticks slower for young people. Her trip around the block felt like 20 minutes to me. When she pulled up, I leaped into the car, showered her with angel kisses, and promised to be a good boy for the rest of my life — a promise I’ve kept. At least that’s the way I’m going to tell the story, because her memory obviously isn’t good enough to contradict my version of events.
So the idea that Lieber was arrested for this is nuts. If there are facts I’m unaware of — if he regularly beats his son, if he traffics in barnyard porn — then I reserve the right to change my stance. But from what we know right now, Lieber should have gotten a pat on the back from the cops. Good on ya, buddy. Next time, if you want to use my Taser, give me a ring.
But almost worse than the arrest is the column Lieber wrote about the incident. It was titled “How Parents Can Learn From Serious Mistakes.” WHAT? NO!! Don’t bend to the pressure, man! YOU’RE A HERO TO FATHERS EVERYWHERE!! You did the right thing. Don’t get all wimpy on us and allow as how you could have exposed your kid to “grave danger.” It was breakfast! Home was just a few blocks away!!! AND THE KID WAS ACTING LIKE A JERK!
Lieber went on in his column to contact a parenting center and ask for their advice on how to deal with a situation like this. Listen, buddy, I hope you only did that because you knew you’d eventually have to face a judge, and the column would be a swell way to show contrition. Because otherwise, yeah, the paper should take your column away.
[taking deep breath]
I’ll turn comments on.