As the teenager continues to spend more and more of her time with the boyfriend and not at home, one rule that continues to be in effect is that her room needs to be clean before she is allowed to go anywhere. What constitutes being called “clean” doesn’t exactly meet the minimum standards usually associated with the word, but this enables us to continue thinking that we are in charge and sticking to our rules. With teenagers it is often necessary to celebrate small victories.
Enforcement means occasionally entering her room, usually just a few steps and a quick scan. As long as her clothes are in manageable piles, the garbage isn’t overflowing, and I’m not attacked by any wild animals I’ll grit my teeth and stamp it approved.
Other days I linger a little longer.
Police officers use something called “The Plain View Doctrine” when they are legally present in an area and observe and recognize something as contraband or evidence to another crime. The idea is that even though a warrant is required to search an area protected by the fourth amendment, evidence found inadvertently in the course of other action should still be admissible as evidence.
Officers must be in the area either with warrent, consent, or while responding to an emergent situation. Nothing can be moved to facilitate an item coming into “plain view” and they must immediately recognize the item as something of interest.
I try and hold to similar procedures regarding Kayla’s room. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for me to be in there, whether it’s collecting empty water glasses, searching for her little sister, or investigating suspicious odors. Drawers aren’t opened, pockets aren’t checked, whatever mysteries her closet holds remain unsolved. An open journal is brutally tempting, but I resist.
Restraint is made much easier by a lack of probable cause. She is a good kid and deserves to be treated as such. When I was her age I had a box in the woods full of apple schnapps, stolen cigarettes, and Hustler magazines. I have no reason to suspect that she has a similar box under her bed so I don’t go looking for one.
Every effort is made to try and preserve her privacy, while also acknowledging that this privacy is maintained at the discretion of the court. A court that consists of two judges named Mom and Dad.
It’s a lot easier when you can issue your own warrants.