DR. WALLACE: I'm a 16-year-old guy who's always in trouble at school because I'm always late in the morning. It's hard for me to wake up early. It doesn't make any difference what time I go to bed. My problems could be solved if I owned a motorcycle. I live about 3 miles from school. If I drove 30 miles an hour, it would only take me 2 minutes to get from my house to school. It takes me about 15 minutes to walk this distance.
My dad said he liked the idea because he's tired of getting calls from the assistant principal complaining that I'm tardy, but my mom overrides him. She thinks motorcycles are unsafe. She would rather I be late than injured. I told her I'd be a safe driver, wear a helmet and pay for the bike, insurance and gas. The answer is still no.
What can I do to get my mother to agree with the two male members of our family? — Sleepy head, via email
SLEEPY: I'm positive that your mother's reason for vetoing the motorcycle is that she's concerned for your safety. I agree with you that most bikers are safe, courteous riders and that you would aim to make safety a high priority if you were to own a motorcycle. However, no matter how safe you may strive to be, you'd be sharing the road with thousands of four-wheel vehicles. It's those vehicles that can cause problems for motorcycle riders, especially young and inexperienced ones as you would be starting out.
As a former high school administrator, I am very familiar with reasons why students are tardy. I would estimate that 90% of late arrivals are the fault of 10% of the student body. The constantly tardy students are usually not on time because they lack self-discipline and responsibility. I saw many "repeat offenders" during my years as a school administrator and principal.
Somehow, I get the feeling that you would continue to find excuses for being late to school even if you had a motorcycle: So, on this one, I will side with your mother. My advice is work on your self-discipline, get a good alarm clock (or use your cellphone if you have one), and wake up early enough to be on time to school. Once you master the art of timeliness, then perhaps you can find a part-time job to help you start to save up for a motorcycle, if you really want one.
WAIT UNTIL THE TIME IS RIGHT
DR. WALLACE: I live alone with my mother who I love very much. She is a superb parent. She put herself through college and graduated with honors. She is an elementary school teacher and enjoys working with younger children. Her influence is so strong that I come to wonder what it would be like to pursue a career in education.
When I was younger, I spent a lot of time with my mom's mom (my grandma) while Mom was in college. Grandma and I became very close. My father was killed in an automobile accident before I was born.
Last week, I visited my grandma and during my visit, I asked her some questions about my dad, such as where he was buried and who his parents are. My grandma teared up and said that she didn't know who my father was, and that Mom had never been married. She told me that she thought I should know and that if and when the time came, for me to question my mom about information regarding my father. I was so shocked at the information that I almost couldn't breathe. I'm better now, but my curiosity is running wild. Should I tell my mother about my chat with Grandma now, or wait until the time seems right, or say nothing at all? — Anonymous, Louisville, Kentucky
ANONYMOUS: Wait until the time seems right. It will be a difficult discussion for Mom, but now that the secret is out and you are aware of the truth, you should know as much as possible about your father in case of a medical necessity and to ease your inquisitive mind.
Regardless of what you discover, make doubly sure that you tell Mom how much you love her and what a wonderful human being she is. She likely told you the "story" about your father's demise out of shame and embarrassment. There is a story there for sure, and you may hear it someday, but be very delicate, respectful and open-minded when the time comes to bring it up. And bring it up very, very carefully, at a time when neither of you has other obligations or feels pressure to be anywhere, as it might take a while to discuss.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.