What’s Worse? A Group of Teens in a Car on a Saturday Night After 11… or the Imagination of a Worried Mom?

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.  Read the rest of this entry »

Driver’s License: A Teen Rite of Passage

Give Me a D! Give Me an R! Give me an I V E! But Put Your Seatbelt on First!

Late Breaking News: Aidan Wright, resident 16 year old of the Fisher household, will be taking (and hopefully passing) his driver’s license test on November 2, 2010. All drivers in the upstate New York/ Massachusetts area take note and take caution. Just sayin… Am I nervous you ask? Let me spell it out for you.

D is for doubt. Can my son really be old enough to operate an automobile…a heavy piece of equipment—a careening cannonball on four wheels-on his own? Without me sitting on the passenger side slamming my foot down on the imaginary brake, barking out orders and white knuckling the handle on the door? Is he ready for the responsibility that comes with not only ensuring his life and the life of the passenger in his car, but the lives of other drivers on the road? D. The doubt is deafening.

R is for rejoicing. I have never seen my tres chic-tres-cool sixteen year old dance a happy little jig, but I am telling you he came close the moment we made his driver’s test appointment on line this week. The corners of his mouth turned up. His eyes twinkled. His face softened. I mused, “What do you call this look I see on your face dear teen? Could it be that elusive smile I have heard much about? I was told such a thing existed. But until now, I didn’t believe I’d ever see it.” A major 16 year old eye roll followed my teasing. But even that wouldn’t damper his mood. I think I saw him skip as he went down the stairs to his bedroom.

I is for I-will-soon-have-my-very-own-gofer. “Let’s be positive,” said my ever chipper husband, “whenever you forget something at market, you can just send a very willing driver to do the errands that you hate.” He may have a point. Did I ever mention how I hate the winter cold? This impending license gives me visions of sitting cozily by the fire saying things like, “Aidan, please go pick up your brother.” Or “Aidan, could you please run to the store to buy me some hot chocolate? Run along and don’t dawdle…”

V is for velocity and verification. Velocity….need I even explain this one. The mere mention of the word makes my toes curl in my new gray cowboy boots. I have visions of a car speeding swiftly down a country road in a game of chicken with perhaps a pickup truck, a van, or worse an 18 wheeler. This nightmare has me thinking about how I can keep tabs on my newly mobile teen, which brings me to VERIFICATION. Some parents, (whom I shall keep nameless lest I give away family secrets) told me about a very nifty gadget that you can put under the hood of your car that acts as a GPS babysitter. Said gadget would come with an application for your cell phone that a parent could check at will to find out the location of the family automobile. Part of me relishes the fact that I can check up on him. That part of me screams… “Run lady! Don’t walk. Where can we get us one of those?” But on the other hand, another part of me feels like that nosy neighbor we used to see on Bewitched, wringing her hands and peering into the front door…saying, “What’s IS going on in there!” And then there’s this: If he ever has a girlfriend, do I REALLY want to know he is parked somewhere on a deserted mountain road or a highway rest stop???? Ummm…I think I’d rather skip that kind of knowledge.

E is for Eager Earning. On the bright side, all this talk of driving and cars has motivated my usually oh-so-unmotivated teen to work many hours at a shall-we-say very popular sub place. I have been impressed with my son’s ability to save (not a trait he inherited from his shopaholic mother.) His bank account over the summer and fall has grown substantially. He is actually at the point where he is looking at cars that he could possibly purchase off of the internet. Of course there is also the fact that we the powers that be at home insist that he pay for his own gas and insurance. But at the rate he is going, that won’t even make a noticeable dent in his cache of cash. “Ummm hey honey…son of mine…could I borrow a 50? There are these to-die-for shoes I can’t live without calling my name.”

R is for REALITY. Despite my reservations, (HA! Another R word) I know that every day brings us closer and closer to November 2. There is no way around it, just like walking, kindergarten, or riding a two wheeler, getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage that every human should experience as they journey towards independence. I know in my heart that Aidan is ready to take this next step towards adulthood. There is no question about that. The real question is am I ready? After all, by now you know how vivid my imagination is. So you won’t be surprised when I tell you that on the day my eldest takes his driver’s test, I will be waiting patiently, but sadly envisioning the moment that that boy of mine who takes up so much of my heart will leave home driving down the road that we call life.


Logan Fisher

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.

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