Let him drive my van with 5 of his friends to Universal Studios in Orlando? Yes, he did. He was wrong, and very disappointed.
You see, a little less than a year ago, I received a phone call from a friend in Washington State, from which we had recently moved. It happened that a group of Justin’s friends – none over 18 – were taking one last trip to the coast before they all went their separate ways to college. As they rounded a curve through the mountains, they met a truck head on. All but one of the 8 were killed. A terrible day for the town of Ridgefield, and one that a few are still dealing with. Mali will never completely be over it, as one of the boys in the SUV was like a brother to her. They had known each other their entire lives.
So, when I told Justin that I would drive him, and Reese and Goose would follow in the car, his mouth dropped.
“Why are you guys going? This is supposed to be our Senior Trip!”
“We are not going to keep up with you guys, we will go our separate ways once we get there, I certainly don’t want to stay all day by myself and I am sure you don’t want me tagging along with you guys..I mean, I know I am the cool mom, but still…”
“But MOM! There are 5 of us! We all have our licences! ”
“So did Aja..and the rest of the kids in SUV with her. Sorry. You know – I don’t like teens..but you know what I like less than teens – dead teens. I want you guys alive and well to see graduation and college and Parris Island.. So, if your friends have a problem, either you can tell them about Aja and your friends, or you can have them call me and I will, but if you want to go, this is how it will be.”
As he mumbled “Fine” and left for school, I thought about all of the times me and my friends would pile in the car and just go. Six Flags with 6 of us in a 5 seater car. Remember Southway? Wow – there was the last day of school Junior year 6 of us riding in the back of Jeff’s truck. Atlanta, again, 5 or 6 in a 4 seater, usually on our way to a bar. We have been so lucky! I can’t imagine letting my kids do these things!
I pulled the mom card a few months ago when Justin and a good friend of his stopped by for Justin to change clothes. I went out to the truck to say hello to Matt and looked in the truck and he had 5 people in the cab – Justin making 6. I asked him to get out and told him that this really wasn’t safe. Did his parents know he was out with this many people in the car? “No, ma’am, and I am not sure how it happened, but it won’t happen again..” Justin came down and off they went. I went inside and thought “OMG – I just turned into my mother!” ..but really, I didn’t, did I? Because our parents – at least mine and my friends, really didn’t think twice about it.
I remember riding in Candy’s fiat convertible, with Jennifer and Bonnie, balls to the wall…not a care in the world…if only we had known then..would it have mattered?
As teens we think we are invincible – even after my car accident – once I got comfortable behind the wheel again, there was no stopping me. We just go and do, often without considering the long-term consequences.
Well, lucky for Justin, I am here to think of the long-term consequences for him. I have been there and done that. In fact, much more than the average parent. So, next weekend, we will all be at Universal Studios in Orlando – Justin and 5 of is friends, and me, Reese and Goose…bummer for him, but better safe than sorry. At least I am the cool mom.