Anonymous Mailbag

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As always, send your questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Okay, here we go with the anonymous mailbag.

“My son is six years old. We live in one of the best school districts in the state in Tennessee. We paid a lot of money (more than we could afford) to build a nice house so we could send him to these schools. He started Kindergarten this year and so far he’s fucking killing it.

He’s also a fucking angel at school. He always gets rewards for his behavior. He’s been in trouble once this year… for enforcing the rules with another student. He yelled “SHUT THE FREAKING DOOR” when the kid ignored the teacher’s instructions. If that’s the worst thing he’s done, I’m a pretty good fucking Dad, no?

So we get a call from his teacher a few weeks ago. He’s in the principal’s office. Why? For pretending, with his bare hands, to be shooting back and forth with another kid. And the teacher was clear that next time this happens he will be suspended. Are they full of shit or being serious? It’s unbelievable. I grew up in a conservative family that sent me to a private Christian school for the majority of my childhood. I SHOT PEOPLE EVERY DAY on the playground. Cops and robbers was the coolest game and we all got copious amounts of joy from watching our buddies pretend to bleed out from being shot with an imaginary bullet that left an imaginary gun. Never once did a teacher even correct us, much less suspend us. 

We were fuckin kids being fuckin kids and I wasn’t hurting anyone and didn’t grow up to shoot people in real life. Hell, I don’t even own a gun or want one at this point. But I also don’t think that two kids pretending to use guns in the cafeteria is grounds for suspension in kindergarten. 

Am I the fucking crazy one here? Are we emasculating boys before their balls even drop? What the hell? Can’t my kid just be a fucking kid? And shouldn’t the administration be focused on more important issues like ACTUALLY KEEPING THE SCHOOL SAFE?” 

This is my problem with society today, we have all these rules in place and we use no intelligent context to apply these rules. Follow me along here: is it a problem when kids are shot at school? Yes. Is it a problem when six year old’s shoot each other with their fingers at school? No. And here’s the important link here, is there in any way a connection between six year old’s shooting each other with their fingers at school and kids getting shot at school? NO.

As in zero, as is it doesn’t exist at all.

If anything, I’d actually think the kids with the social skills to play shooting games with each other are far less likely to one day grow up and actually shoot each other than the kids not playing shooting games.

Now, I do think there might be a subtle difference between where this takes place — for instance, you say this happened in the cafeteria. Could that be the reason for the issue? It is true that kids running around pretending to shoot each other in a cafeteria or library or class room during quiet time, for instance, is different than doing it in recess. But it seems like the lesson there would be pretty simple — you can’t play football in the cafeteria or the library (or, as my wife constantly tells the boys and me, in our house).

But that seems like a simple lesson to apply that kids would learn pretty easily. And it certainly doesn’t seem to necessitate a threat of suspension.

Suspending a kindergartener for pretending to shoot each other with their hands is like suspending an eighth grader for masturbating, eventually you’ve got nobody left in the entire school.

I haven’t ever gotten into an argument with my kid’s school teachers — in fact they’ve been fantastic — but we did have an issue with the county policy on unexcused absences. One of my kids was going to have too many a couple of years ago if we went to Disney World. And my wife was like, “The rules say we can’t take this trip and they just sent us a letter letting us know we were close to the limit.” And I said, “What are they going to do, fail our second grader in the school’s gifted program because we go to Disney World?”

And we went and they didn’t do anything because they understood something that far too many people don’t understand today — rules exist to solve problems, not to universally be applied to all situations even when there are no problems.

The problem with rules comes when people who are too dumb to understand why the rule exists in the first place uniformly apply a rule even in situations where it doesn’t apply.

Which seems to be what’s happening here.

I’d tell my kid he can only play cowboys and Indians — assuming that phrase is even PC enough to use these days — when he’s outside at recess. If they call you and threaten a suspension over that, I’d call into my radio show and unleash holy hell on the school.

Because the vast majority of people in the country would agree with you.

“My mother-in-law is in town this week and the only plans my wife and I have for celebrating my wife’s mom is to cook for her. Is this enough? I’m a little worried this may go badly because my mother-in-law has some screws loose and is very sensitive. I’m getting my wife some flowers and a small gift or two (we have 1-yr old). I figured the flowers could sort of be for both my wife and her mom. She could enjoy those flowers while she’s here (no sense in getting her flowers before she flies back home). 

What’s the protocol here?”
I’m not just saying this because they are advertising on Outkick, I’m saying it because you can spend $20 and save yourself a ton of trouble.
Here’s the deal, when you’re a dad with young kids you’re living in a minefield. Every direction you move could blow you up. Because you’ve got responsibility for your own mom, but you’ve also got to buy your wife a gift because she’s a mom now too. You’re fighting a two-fronted war and your asshole kids are just freeloading on their mother’s day obligations for years and years until they finally have to carry their own weight.
The mother’s day mess is much bigger mess than Valentine’s Day for a husband with young kids.
WAY BIGGER.
Everybody talks about messing up Valentine’s Day, but that pales in comparison to messing up mother’s day. Why? Because if you have young kids mother’s day isn’t actually mother’s day, it’s wives day. And you don’t want to piss off your wife because your freeloading kids are too young to take care of their damn responsibilities.
Sure, cooking for your mother-in-law may be enough, but why risk it? Why not be the son-in-law who is so considerate that he also got his mother-in-law roses for mother’s day too? (This also helps to avoid your wife fighting with her mom over stupid stuff that you have to hear about and pretend to care about. Pro tip, saying, “It’s not that I dont’ think you’re in the right or wrong, it’s that I just don’t care about this issue at all,” does not endear you to your wife when she is feuding with someone over something trivial.)
Just make sure your wife’s roses are just as good, if not a bit better.
Now some moms out there reading this right now might be like, “What about father’s day? We have to cover for the kids then too.”
Get the fuck out of here, you have to have sex with your husband.
Big deal.
Every man reading this right now would rather you put on new lingerie and screw our brains out on the Saturday night before father’s day than actually give us any present at all. If that’s hard work, tell me where to sign up for it.
“Big debate at my house between the wife and I.  We have 4 kids who are between 7 and 16. 
My mom’s house is 15 minutes away. 
In-Laws house is 30 minutes away. But might as well be in another state for how much we see them. 
Last fall my mom put in a pool, hot tub, my two brothers and I landscaped the backyard, nice patio with Traeger Grill, and 50 inch flatscreen. We also share season-tickets to a short-season Rookie League (Pioneer League Dodgers Affiliate) with my siblings. Long story – short, my kids are stoked about summer swimming and BBQ at my mom’s house. They talk about it all the time, including in-front of my mother-in-law last night at one of the kid’s school events. 
After we got home last night,  my mother-in-law called my wife and was upset/furious/hurt that my kids are so excited about spending time at my mom’s house. Throw into that my wife and kids Instagram, tweet, etc. every time we go somewhere so my M.I.L. can see everything we do. My wife knows my kids prefer my mom’s house and that my mom invests alot of time and money into her relationship with my kids. However, now she wants to try and balance time at her mom’s. (Side note, my kids and I…and even my wife don’t love going there. She has two huge dogs that ransack the place. We basically sit and do karaoke and play pinochle…shoot me now)
So wise-one, how do I enjoy the pool, Traeger, baseball tix, and my summer without sitting getting slobbered on by dogs, singing Sweet Caroline on a shitty home karaoke system, and playing pinochle? All the while keeping my wife happy and still getting banged whenever I want?”
There’s only one way to solve this, each of your kids, at least the ones who aren’t teenagers, spends an entire week at your mother-in-law’s place during the summer. Hell, if she wants more time with the kids call her on her bluff, let her keep your kids, one at a time, for a week in a row during the summer. Then she gets the kids all to herself and can prove how awesome she is.
And, even better, you and your wife get a free week off in the summer from your youngest kids.
Act like you are doing a huge favor for her when you suggest this.
That’s option one and it’s the best by far. Option two is just invite the mother-in-law to the pool at your mom’s house. Not every time, but enough times where she feels included. Also tell your wife and kids not to Instagram from the pool so she’s not aware of every time you’re there.
“What’s the statute of limitations on asking to be paid back for expenses from friends?
Back story: Just shy of 2 years ago, 5 couples went on a trip over a long weekend.  There were several wine tastings and a dinner or two that were all picked up by one of the couples (“Paying Couple”), to make it easier than splitting checks or making it hell on a waiter.  I would ballpark each couple owes the Paying Couple $1,000.
The Paying Couple said they’d send out full accounting for it later, and that never happened. Multiple emails, texts, and conversations every time we get together have not resulted in any sort of accounting or ask for money. One of the other couples even went so far as to leave a blank check with the Paying Couple, and it hasn’t been touched. I’m not sure if this is a control issue or a lack of caring about a few thousand dollars, regardless, we’ve all given up asking about it.
Fast forward to now – and we’re booking a similar trip with the exact same group.  The lodging is a VRBO type, and it’s on my credit card to the tune of $5,000.  I sent out a note to all couples asking to reimburse me.  All have done so, except the original Paying Couple. They asked to net out what we owe them from the last trip, and that they would get back with me as to what that amount is.  I have serious doubts as to whether or not this accounting will ever happen.
All couples are upper middle class types, and Paying Couple likely makes Clay Travis money, if that makes any difference.
I have no problems paying my share from almost 2 years ago, but when should Paying Couple just let it go and not bring up reimbursement?  And what are the odds I ever see any sort of accounting from 2 years ago?”
This is a tough one. This couple probably feels like they paid for everyone on their trip so you should be paying for them on this trip without even asking. Or by just acknowledging them for what they did and saying you’ve got them covered. And now they’re being passive aggressive by seeking reimbursement for the old trip because you’re not covering for them this time.
I can see both arguments here — that you should have considered it even for what they did for you before — even without an accounting — and also that they should have just sucked it up and paid without mentioning anything. Personally, I would have paid. The benefits, to me, of having more money than you need is that you don’t have to worry about things like this. And why be petty and annoy your friends over a sum of money that isn’t going to change your life?
That’s especially the case if you have the money to be able to cover the full expenses for the group and other people might not.
Having said that, who keeps receipts from friendly trips two years ago? Are the amounts roughly even? Then call it even. Does it really matter if they paid $850 for you and now you’re paying $1k for them. This is why I always believe couples should split checks at dinner when three or more couples are involved. If your enjoyment at dinner is totally implicated by ensuring that your meal and drinks costs the exact amount it costs on the menu, then don’t fucking go. Or pick a cheap restaurant where you can afford to split the check.
Finally, why don’t all of you just have venmo? My wife settles bills like these all the time with her girlfriends and it’s incredibly easy to share and manage.
“I’m in a relatively new job, and it’s my first corporate office setting as I’ve worked for myself the past 11+ years. On the bathroom on my floor there are 2 sit down stalls, a regular stall and the handicapped stall. I went in the other day and the regular stall was being used so I used the handicapped stall and did my business. When I was done I got up, flushed and went to wash my hands. There was a guy just standing there that I haven’t met yet (I’m new). He looks at me and says “The handicapped stall is for handicapped people. You shouldn’t be using it unless you have a handicap. It’s an HR compliance issue and just inconsiderate.” And then he just walked out.
I have no idea how to respond to this. This isn’t really something HR deals with is it? Is it worse to use a handicap stall or wait outside the stall for the person using it and then chastise them for using it? Also, isn’t it strange to just sit there and wait for me to finish just to have that confrontation?”
You should have just calmly washed your hands and said, “I did have a handicap, I had to poop so bad I couldn’t even stand up straight.”
Just to see the guy’s apoplectic reaction.
Honestly, put yourself in this situation, what’s weirder, using the handicap stall when the regular stall is occupied or waiting outside the regular stall until that stall is empty and immediately going in right after the other guy leaves?
No contest, going right in after the other guy is much weirder, right?
The same thing is true here; the poop patrol Nazi is way out of line. And there’s no way HR gets involved here.
It would be one thing if you happened to come out and a guy in a wheelchair had shit himself waiting for you to finish. But I have never, in my entire life of using public bathrooms, ever seen a handicapped guy waiting to use the handicap stall.
Never!
I suspect that’s because we way overbuild handicap stalls relative to the number of handicapped people there are in the country. And bathroom builders have to know that the handicap stall is fair game when a handicapped person isn’t there, right?
Think about it, every bathroom has to have a handicap stall. Let’s say the average bathroom has three stalls in it, that means 33% of the stalls are reserved for people with handicaps. What percentage of people actually have handicaps that require they use that stall? Maybe 1% at the absolute most and I think that’s way too high.
The truth of the matter is this, the handicap stall is the penthouse suite of the bathroom universe. When I’m in there I feel like I’m luxuriating in my poop experience. I’ve got my feet all wide, looking out in front of me like a sultan views his kingdom. I’ll be damned if I’m ever giving it up to sit in that sharecropper bathroom when given the option between the two.
You did nothing wrong.
And if HR calls you in, tell them you’re trans-handicapped. That means you’re not actually handicapped, but when you poop you feel like you’re handicapped.
Boom, you’re a hero.
Send your questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.
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