The Screen Shop

by cheri sabraw

Most of us know what the acronym CPR means, but how many of us know what TPR means? The properties of TPR (Taking Personal Responsibility) were made crystal clear to me last week when I went to a screen shop in San Jose to order some new doors. Let me set the scene. Two individuals were waiting at the counter for service. The first, a young man in his late 20’s and the second, a stylishly dressed woman in her late 30’s, were both carrying screens that needed repair. Always interested in the details of life, I scrutinized both the people and their screens.

The guy was carrying a white screen guard, the type we put on our screen doors to protect them from children and dogs. This screen guard, made of sturdy white metal and corrugated like a waffle, had a basketball-sized circular protrusion sticking out. It literally looked as though a solid steel canon ball had been shot from a close distance directly through it. For those of you who still cannot visualize this piece of metal, the protrusion looked like a large white blood vessel (about the size of a bowling ball) ready to burst.

My goodness, I thought, what in the heck could have caused such a deformation? The fellow went on matter-of-factly to tell the saleswoman that his pit bull had become “upset” upon seeing workers in the street in front of his house. He thought the City of San Jose should have let him know about the project ahead of time. All I could picture was the head of that pit bull, looking  like a cast-iron frying skillet, coming through the door, ripping the workers to shreds while the owner blamed them for their disfigurement or even their deaths.

The woman in the screen shop, chatty and loud, juggled four screens, the type which would provide the entrance of cool air into a restful bedroom. But this bedroom I was imagining was not restful, by any means. The frames of her screens were horribly bent, the mesh had been cut, and red paint covered several of the screens. Her “story” was that her 15- year- old teenage son was continuing to rip the screens apart while sneaking out of his bedroom on the weekends. I waited for her apologetic excuse to the clerk, but alas, this prison break seemed to be routine. She actually laughed nervously and shook her bracelet.

My ears waited for the appropriate TPR responses.

Gee, maybe I shouldn’t be owning a dog which could do this type of damage to a screen – imagine what could have happened had my dog gotten loose?

My son should be here paying for these screens with the money he earns from digging ditches. If he continues to be so defiant, I will take very dramatic steps to save him from himself – not to mention saving our family life.

Of course those responses never came. I ordered my doors and left to go back to work at my little school.

I reflected on the students I know. Most are well adjusted and have  parents who have fostered a sense of personal responsibility in their children. These students (with wise parent counsel) might have done some of the following on their journeys to adult life:

▪   Held down a part-time job

▪   Had  chores within the household

▪   Cooked dinner once a week for their working parents

▪   Managed their own checking accounts

▪   Went to the teacher first when problems arose

▪   Tried their best not to make excuses

▪   Filled out their own college applications

▪   Wrote their own college essay

▪   Sought adult advice


Our children’s approach to the world is often molded by those wise parents who take responsibility for the most serious job we will ever have: parenting.

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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