"You reach a point," the expression goes, "where you just can't take it anymore."
Apparently, a woman in Nebraska reached that point with her teenaged children last week. Her 14-year-old son was, according to her, smoking pot, getting into trouble and beating up his younger brother without remorse.
So she drove him to her local police department.
And she left him there.
"I hope he knows I love him and I didn't abandon him," she told the media. "I just felt I had to keep the other kids safe."
Now, before you go getting any ideas, please know that while the police are, as they say, there to serve, this is not acceptable behavior, even in Nebraska. The woman was ticketed and faces charges in civil court.
Still, I wonder how many read that story and said to themselves, "You know, there have been times with my kids...."
After all, we have created a society where the temptations for teenagers are at an all-time high, and your disciplinary options are at an all time low.
You smack 'em? Somebody reports you. You withhold their meals? Someone reports you. You yank them out of school? Someone comes knocking.
And heaven forbid you take away their iPods, iPhones, car keys, expensive sneakers or Internet privileges; they're considered social misfits.
What kind of cruel parent are you?
AN OUT-OF-CONTROL SITUATION
The idea of letting the police scare a little sense into your kids is not that alien. Once upon a time in this country, cops or sheriffs would help you out that way if you asked them. They'd come around and give your kids a talking to. A little tough love. Put a little fear in them.
No chance now. Public officials are so handcuffed as to what they can say or do, they want no part of your family issues. Almost everything that is not specifically covered in the police officer's handbook is now viewed through the following letters: L-A-W-S-U-I-T.
This was apparently overlooked by the Omaha woman who dropped her son off at the local pokey. She was under the impression that police stations were covered by Nebraska's new Safe Haven law, which allows parents to leave their children in certain designated hospitals if they feel they are in danger.
It was written ostensibly to protect abandoned children. But so far, numerous parents have dropped off high-schoolers and grade-schoolers. One father dumped nine of his 10 children.
NOT A TIME TO JUDGE
Now, clearly, this is not the intent of the law, and Nebraska legislators will need to quickly address it.
But the numbers and the ages do indicate just how rough it has gotten out there for parents, especially parents of teenagers.
Kids are bigger now. They are louder. They are more empowered, more sexualized and, thanks to computers and phone-texting, they often feel more connected with the outside world than they do in their own home.
Combine that with the increase in single-parent households, and you can understand why a drop-off zone becomes a tantalizing idea.
"I was tying to do something proactive," the Omaha woman, a single mother of four, told a TV station there. "I'm not on drugs. I have a full-time job. ... I thought it was hopeless."
The woman herself will not face jail charges. But her son is in foster care. And she has become the subject of intense interest, from sympathetic parents who feel her frustration, to finger-waggers who blame her for not being a better mother.
I don't know. I think it's easy to tell other folks how to parent their kids. Until you've been in the home, heard the screaming, watched the behavior, felt the pain, you're not really entitled to a full opinion. So I can't render one on this woman.
On the other hand, I do know Warren Buffett lives near Omaha. And he seems pretty good at relieving people of their burdens.
Maybe she should have dropped the kid at his house.