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Star-Telegram Columnist Arrested for Child Abandonment

Okay, I just went insane. I’m sitting here at my desk, yelling at my computer. Because someone just sent me a link to the story about Star-Telegram columnist Dave Lieber getting arrested for child abandonment. I gotta tell you, Lieber has driven me nervous. I’ve got a full-blown case of the howling fantods about what this guy did — but not for ditching his kid. Let’s jump, because this is gonna require some space.

The facts: the other day, Lieber was eating breakfast at a restaurant with his son, who is 11 years old. The age of reason, if you’re scoring at home, is 7. This restaurant was a few blocks from the Lieber house. And Lieber the younger, by his father’s account, was acting like a pill. He wouldn’t let Dad finish his breakfast in peace. He was ready to leave. NOW. So, after repeatedly asking the kid to be patient, Lieber ditched him. Got in his car and left. He was gone for “several minutes.” In the morning.

I say bully on you, Dave Lieber. Good show. The kid had it coming. As a parent, you’ve got to let those jerks who live in your house know that you mean business. When you count to three, if they haven’t done what needs doing by three, then there’s a price to be paid. It’s up to you whether that’s a hand to the rump or a pulled plug on the Wii.

Just so in this case. Lieber asked his kid to get a grip. Repeatedly. And then he showed that kid that his bad behavior had made him an unsuitable driving companion. Walk home, junior. On the way, think about the apology you’ll make when you walk through the front door.

Listen, my mother did exactly this same thing to me. I was 7 or 8. We were eating at a McDonald’s (I think) on Ross Avenue — excuse me, Cesar Chavez Avenue. [barf, cough, spit] I was being a brat. Neither my mom nor I can recall exactly what form this brattiness took. But she finally said something to the effect of: “Get in the car right now, or I’m leaving without you.” I didn’t, and she did.

So I plopped down and started to wait. Because I knew she’d be back. At least I thought she’d come back. Mom will come back, right?

Oh, of course she came back. Time ticks slower for young people. Her trip around the block felt like 20 minutes to me. When she pulled up, I leaped into the car, showered her with angel kisses, and promised to be a good boy for the rest of my life — a promise I’ve kept. At least that’s the way I’m going to tell the story, because her memory obviously isn’t good enough to contradict my version of events.

So the idea that Lieber was arrested for this is nuts. If there are facts I’m unaware of — if he regularly beats his son, if he traffics in barnyard porn — then I reserve the right to change my stance. But from what we know right now, Lieber should have gotten a pat on the back from the cops. Good on ya, buddy. Next time, if you want to use my Taser, give me a ring.

But almost worse than the arrest is the column Lieber wrote about the incident. It was titled “How Parents Can Learn From Serious Mistakes.” WHAT? NO!! Don’t bend to the pressure, man! YOU’RE A HERO TO FATHERS EVERYWHERE!! You did the right thing. Don’t get all wimpy on us and allow as how you could have exposed your kid to “grave danger.” It was breakfast! Home was just a few blocks away!!! AND THE KID WAS ACTING LIKE A JERK!

Lieber went on in his column to contact a parenting center and ask for their advice on how to deal with a situation like this. Listen, buddy, I hope you only did that because you knew you’d eventually have to face a judge, and the column would be a swell way to show contrition. Because otherwise, yeah, the paper should take your column away.

[taking deep breath]

I’ll turn comments on.

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  • Matt

    § 22.041. ABANDONING OR ENDANGERING CHILD. (a) In this section, “abandon” means to leave a child in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care for the child, under circumstances under which no reasonable, similarly situated adult would leave a child of that age and ability.
    (b) A person commits an offense if, having custody, care, or control of a child younger than 15 years, he intentionally abandons the child in any place under circumstances that expose the child to
    an unreasonable risk of harm.

    Google estimates it’s 1.3 mi — about 26 mins walking. On a 95 degree day. Down and across Basswood Blvd – 17,810 vehicles per day (TXDOT 2006), then up through a neighborhood or two.

    Yeah, I think his little temper tantrum led him to fail to provide reasonable and necessary care for a child. Particularly that bit about how the kid was trying to get in the car when he drove off.

  • jrp

    it wasn’t Crenshaw Blvd., dude, it wasn’t as if the kid woulda been walking through Compton or the South Bronx or North Philly or Camden, man, it’s freakin Tarrant County for chrissakes on a bright, clear sunny day

    what care was the child lacking? Mommy to hold his hand as he crossed big bad scary Basswood Blvd.? and it’s an 11-year-old not a 5-year-old

    it’s sad and troubling that so many people seem to think this father did something wrong…just sad how delusional so many are

  • jp

    Ahhh, what goes around comes around. Holding the NRH swat team up to ridiculous technicalities on a warrant. Acting like some school districts are Neanderthal when they are only holding up the state laws. He SHOULD be held to the letter of the Law and the peccadilloes he demands of all others.

    I only bet the NRH police so wish it was at a McDonald’s in their district. I guarantee there wouldn’t be a name misspelling on the warrant as I am sure they remember it letter for letter.

  • Lauren

    Who needs to grow up here? Leiber himself. You can’t handle an argument with an 11 year old in a public place, so you speed away in your car while the kid tries to open the door? It sounds like a teenage love spat before it sounds like interaction between a parent and a child. If your kids are flipping out so badly in a restaurant – and you react in such a psychologically immature way, then there is a lot more going on there than a kid just acting like a brat….and I think that starts with the parent. If your kid needs a lesson, stop eating and take your stuff with you. Drive the brat home and not take him out to eat again until he proves himself to be a more respecting kid – then take away the ipod, the Wii, cell phone, TV and anything else that is extra: legally you owe the kid a roof over his head, food, basic clothing, and an education -period. If brat wants more, then he can earn it back. As a parent you don’t have to show that you lost control and can’t handle an argument with a child, you’ll earn no respect that way – nor should you get any…looks like that is the root of the problem here.

  • KOwriter

    If you are a parent you’ve been immature with your kids at least once or at least angry enough to do something questionable by normal thinking. Just be glad witnesses weren’t around! Come on don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t know if he was uncontrollable, immature or what but give me a break.
    As far as walking a mile on a 95 degree day. Can’t tell you how many miles I walked with my cousin to go fishing by ourselves during the summer or just playing outside. You wonder why the country is obese when a kid can’t walk a mile or two on a hot day without it being endangerment.