We parents wear many hats and dutifully accept the chores assigned to each, but the one I enjoy least is labeled “jailer.”

Sometimes, the only way to get a child’s attention is to place him/her under house arrest. Grounded. All privileges suspended. Cut off from the world.

Grounding is an onerous punishment, particularly for teen-agers, whose whole world revolves around social scenes and questionable friends. But it’s also pretty onerous for the parents because we’re required to enforce it. Which means we’re stuck in jail, too.

Usually, I have no problem with hanging around the house. It’s where I work, as well as where I do all my important lifestyle activities, such as reading and eating chocolate. But when staying at home is required, I get as itchy as the grounded offspring.

Last year, my wife and I played jailer for two full months, following several school transgressions by our then-16-year-old son. To make sure he understood the gravity of the situation, we went to full-scale house arrest. No social contacts, no leaving the property, no fun. We took away his cell phone. We disconnected his Internet. We found many, many work projects to keep him busy.

To his credit, he was a model prisoner, doing chores without complaint and only occasionally trying to wheedle out of his long sentence. But there were antsy periods, when being cooped up was nearly more than he could bear. (Three oblique animal references in one sentence; I believe that is a trifecta.)

I could tell when confinement was getting to him because he would play a mournful harmonica and drag his metal cup on the bars. (Kidding!) Instead, he’d start pestering me, joking around, poking and prodding, until I’d hit him with my nightstick. (Kidding again!) Usually, I’d play along, in our traditional Three Stooges-slapfight-dishtowel-popping mode, because I was going stir-crazy, too.

Unlike him, I could get away occasionally. Run some errands. Go to the library. Catch a matinee. But one or the other parent had to stay close, so our inmate wouldn’t start hatching escape plans or tunneling under the yard.

The one exception to his confinement was driving lessons. I don’t even try to wear the hat that says “driving instructor.” My wife is in charge of teaching the kids to drive. I’m too nervous. Even with an experienced driver, I’m a terrible passenger, gasping and stomping the floorboard until I’m ordered out of the car on the side of the road.

Ours son’s transgressions also required me to spend many hours in my “senior lecturer” hat, one I’m particularly well-equipped to wear. No one can outtalk me. I gab on and on, slowly wearing down the children, until they can hear my voice in their sleep. If that’s not a deterrent, I don’t know what is.

I’ve retired my “chef” hat during the warm weather, but there are still plenty of parental hats to wear: chauffeur, repairman, laundryman, nurse, pool boy, sunscreen enforcer and TV remote operator.

And let’s not forget “probation officer.” That hat's still hanging around, in case somebody decides to try on “repeat offender.”

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