Runaway Cars or Runaway Thoughts?
What is it about teenagers that make any rational parent turn into a suspicious, hand wringing, worry wart? And what is it about a group of teens… in a car… on a Saturday night… after 11 that makes a mom sit on the edge of her bed, bouncing a nervous knee, chewing her finger nails and imagining all kinds of mutilating scenarios and terrible trouble that adolescent boys could get into?
Perhaps it is all the horror stories we hear on the news. Perhaps it is because deep down moms know that the mere fact that they have a 17 year old means that there is bound to be trouble. Perhaps it is none of these. Whatever the reason or reasons, I was feeling the pressure of fret last Saturday night when my 17 year old climbed into what looked like one of those circus cars filled with a never-ending stream of clowns, except the clowns-in this instance-were a mixture of adolescent girls and boys four of them to be exact jammed into the crevices of a compact car. Did I imagine that the driver peeled out of my driveway? Maybe I should have looked to see if he left skid marks.
For the most part while Aidan was out, um, well being a teen, I distracted myself with dishes and the baby and folding laundry and writing. But in the quiet moments just minutes before his curfew my mind began to plague me with anxiety, especially when there was a jolt, a vibration and jingle of a bell. “It’s 11:15 who could be texting this late?” I asked myself when really I knew the answer in my gut. Shakily I looked down and Aidan’s text read, “Can I stay out ‘til 12?”
I considered. I pondered. He is with good kids. He has never given us a reason to worry about poor choices like alcohol or drugs. And so, even though his curfew is 11:30 I answered,
“Yes. 12. Not 12:05!”
Feeling satisfied and trying hard to concentrate on the fact that my son was having fun and doing what kids his age do, I popped on the TV and snuggled down under my blankets. And then a jolt, a vibration and a jingle of a bell. This time, Aidan’s text read: “If I go to dad’s for the night, can I stay out later?”
I read. I was puzzled. This is unexpected. I raised an eyebrow while I recited the text to my husband. He and I decide that we are not playing this game of back and forth between whichever parent is more lenient. I answered a resounding, “No! There is nothing that you can do after 12 that u can’t do b 4!” (Getting good at this texting thing aren’t I?)
I felt satisfied, but it only took one comment from my husband for the suspicion to creep into my bones and under my skin and swirl through my mind. “Why do you think he wanted to stay out later? He’s never asked for that before?”
And my thoughts were off. The first imagined reason for needing to be out so late flashed through my mind — my son in a passionate embrace. Gulp. Yikes! I quickly wiped that thought away only for a whisky bottle in a brown paper bag being passed back and forth between the passengers and the driver to immediately take its place. Trying to calm myself down, I forced my hand to pick up the clicker and I absentmindedly started surfing through the channels. I stop at COPS. Oh good lord! COPS. THE COPS! What if they are in trouble with the police and he’s trying to hide it from me by claiming to go to his father’s house. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had a chance to talk myself out of THIS particular frenzied thought before a jolt, a vibration and a RINGING of a bell. My phone ringing. RINGING. No text. Actual voice to voice communication coming from my son’s phone. This must be serious. Shakily, I pick up my phone and answer it. “Hello?”
“Mom!” Aidan says with desperation on the other end of the phone.
“What is IT!” I blurt. The theme song of COPS filling my ears.
“Well. I have something to tell you.” (Bad Boys. Bad Boys.) “We were driving along just minding our own business.” (Whatcha gonna do?) “And all of a sudden we see blue and green flashing lights behind us!” (Whatcha gonna do when they come for you??)
“Blue and green lights!!??” I scream. Police lights and sirens fill my shell- shocked mind. I sink down lower under my blankets white knuckling the ends of the sheets.
“So Dan pulls over to the side of the road.” Oh dear lord! Here it comes. He’s in handcuffs. Needs bail. In the pokey. I brace for the rest of the story.
“He does a U-eee and speeds back towards the blue and green light.”
I tried to swallow the brick in my throat. Fleeing from the police? How much worse could this get?”
“We rounded the corner, Mom and all of a sudden there are cops everywhere.” Cops everywhere? It was worse than I thought. What had they done? Visions of our entire small town police force surrounding the car pierced my brain. I could see the front page headline, “Teacher’s Son Arrested After High Speed Chase!”
“So then Mom. Oh you will never guess!”
“Aidan!” I shrieked. “Just get to the point. Get it over with! Put me out of my misery!”
“Jeez mom. Okay. I was just going to tell you that some truck ran into a power station by the John Burke apartments and there was a huge explosion. You wouldn’t believe the cool green and blue lights that were shooting out of it. The truck was wrapped around a pole. There was a fire and it looked like people were hurt. I’ve never seen an accident that bad! You wouldn’t believe it mom.”
“A power station?” Relief settled into my bones then a chastising voice that I tried hard to ignore by conversing with my son.
“Oh. You are right. I wouldn’t believe it.”
What is it about teenagers that make any rational parent turn into a suspicious, hand wringing, worry wart? And what is it about a group of teens… in a car… on a Saturday night… after 11 that makes a mom sit on the edge of her bed, bouncing a nervous knee, chewing her finger nails and imagining all kinds of mutilating scenarios and terrible trouble that adolescent boys could get into? Perhaps it is the distrusting nature of the mother that is doing the thinking. And that might be more worrisome than a teenager out on the town.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed.