“Sooo, you guys don’t want us to smoke pot right?” The question was being asked by my 15 year old son. I looked at him from across the table wondering where he was going with the question. He had a slight smirk on his face as he turned to his father next to him waiting for his reaction. “No!” His father proclaimed adamantly. I, on the other hand, knew better than to fall for my sons trap and said nothing. “So then it’s ok if we eat it in brownies, right?” A huge smile spread across his face. I smiled back at him, “You think you’re so clever don’t you?” I responded. Then his father went into one of his, “If I ever find out….!!!” rants.
Placing fear in a child has been a parenting technique used over and over again throughout the generations. My grandmother would tell my mother as a child that if she lied, God would open up the ground and swallow her. My father threatened to make me smoke an entire pack of cigarettes if he ever found out I smoked. Let’s just say that didn’t work. Not only did I start smoking at 16, he never fulfilled his threat!
Thus, I am not one to agree with scare tactics or menacing threats. They seem futile to me, particularly when it comes to teens who seem to be more turned on by the idea of defying those threats and being exposed to tempting moments of defiance on a regular basis to fulfill an insatiable craving.
This brings me to realities. The reality that really exists and the reality that we as parents construct to make us feel better about ourselves as “good” parents. In this constructed reality our children are almost-perfect, well-behaved, responsible, courteous, respectful individuals at all times. Frankly, I don’t personally know anyone’s kids who are, but if yours are, well hey, I guess you’re a better parent than most of us. The reality that is real however, can be extremely jarring and difficult to come to terms with. It is a reality cocktail mix of parties, drugs, sex, and alcohol, topped with moments of defying authority, an expansion of hostile and vulgar language and irresponsible risks.
I think it’s safe to say that for most of us parents our biggest fear is that the parties, drugs and sex that lurk around every corner might take our children hostage and won’t give them up without a hefty ransom.
This past year the parties have been in abundance for my 15 year old who has always been a social butterfly. I like to allow him the opportunity to engage with his peers outside of school, with certain limits so while I don’t say yes to every single event, he does have the opportunity to earn the right to go out. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to do shit. My parents were super strict when it came to going to events, parties, hanging out with friends, sleepovers, and boyfriends. They did, however, trust me fully to “stay after school for club meetings” or to “go to the library” (if my mom is reading this now she’ll probably be discovering for the first time that her studious, obedient, good girl had been lying to her…sorry ma!) and I would use those excuses to meet up with a boyfriend or group of friends. So long as I kept good grades and wasn’t getting in trouble at school, my parents had nothing to be concerned about.
Early in the school year one of the first house parties ended abruptly when my son called me about an hour after I dropped him off asking me to pick him up because there had been a fight and the father was kicking everyone out. It was at this point that I realized we were no longer in middle school. The same girls who threw this party decided to throw the end of school year party as well…except this time if would be at one of the other girls’ house “whose father wasn’t so strict” (my sons words).
My son informed me of the party about two weeks in advance and who was throwing the party. “So you want to put yourself in that kind of situation again?” A week later he brought it up again. This time I asked him to show me the invite. He brought over his latptop and showed me the Facebook invite. The party was being held on a Thursday night from 9-1 am. Over 300 people were invited with over 100 already confirmed and the invite recommended that you bring whoever you wanted to bring.
“What kind of parents let their kids have a party on a Thursday night until 1am?”
“We don’t have school the next day mom.”
“It doesn’t matter. People have to go to work. And what’s this crap about invite whoever you want? So the whole world and their shit is invited? Do the parents have any idea that their daughter posted an open invite on Facebook?” A million thoughts were running through my head at the same time. So many reasons why I shouldn’t let my son go to this party. “I don’t think it’s gonna happen.”
Two days before the party I called the mother of one of my sons’ friends and asked her how she felt about the party. Like me, she was also on the fence about letting her son go. I told her that these were the same girls who had thrown the party at the beginning of the year where the fight broke out and she informed me of some parents who had seen kids smoking pot on the side of the house that night. I told her about the invitation being open to the whole world and she informed me that the Facebook invite had a line that said, “You can drink and smoke, just don’t make it obvious or do it on the side of the house.” I hadn’t seen that line when I looked at the invitation so I went to my computer and logged into my sons Facebook account to review the invitation. The invite had been altered because now both lines has been deleted. We came to the conclusion that an adult must have finally seen the invite and requested the changes be made. But as I read the comment feeds about “fucking on the couch” and “bring your own boos cuz my parents don’t have much” I began to solidify my decision.
As we discussed the situation, I explained to her that my trepidation came not from the fact that there would be drugs and boos, but from the fact that it didn’t seem as though parents would be vigilant at this party, and the combination of drugs and boos with teens from all over was a recipe for an unsafe situation that could lead to violence and danger. We contemplated letting them go and calling the cops ourselves about an hour into the party while we waited outside the house. But, after over an hour of discussing the situation and the need to give our children trust we agreed that we would tell our sons that they could not go.
Later that evening as I was putting dinner in the oven and my son walked into the kitchen I informed him that he would not be going to the party. I could feel him standing behind me with his arms crossed. “Don’t get all pissy until you’ve heard me out.” For the next hour I explained to him my fears of the situation, he told me I was being too overprotective, I told him he couldn’t use that line on me, he told me I needed to trust him, I told him not really, he told me he had already been exposed to that stuff and hadn’t done anything and I told him that’s great. But then I explained the following to him,
“You want me to trust you and you want me to believe that you are responsible and mature, but the fact that you still want to attend this party with all of the elements that are involved, shows me that you are not mature enough just yet. Because a mature person knows not to put themselves in a potentially dangerous position. Why do you think I never go to Calle 8??” (Unless you’re from Miami you’re not going to understand this, so look it up)
I then went on to give him examples of my own teenage experiences where I had put myself in dangerous and risky situations with people I should not have had anything to do with and even though I wasn’t doing anything bad, I had made the decision to put myself in a position where I could get in serious trouble simply for being an accessory.
And guess what?
He got it! He actually understood and was receptive and was OK with not going to the party. “Can I plan to do something else then?” He asked. “Of course you can!”
The next day, the son of the mom I had spoken to kept texting her all morning begging her to let him go. “He’s asking if he gets me the number for the girls’ parents and I talk to them if I will let him go then.” I thought that was a ballsy move on a 15 year old’s part, but then again he could easily put someone else on the phone to pretend they were the girls parents (that’s what I would have done). Then she asked me if she did get to talk to a parent if I would let my son go to the party as well.
“No. I can’t. I already made my decision and I don’t change my mind once it’s made up. Besides my son was receptive and he’s not trying to convince me otherwise.”
Later on after I picked up my son from school I asked him why he wasn’t trying to convince me to change my mind like his friend was, “Cuz I understand mom and I agree with you.” Holy sigh of relief! Maybe he is maturing??!! I asked him who else wasn’t going and he informed me that one other boy wasn’t allowed to go but he was going to sleep over his friends house who was going to the party and his mom would never find out. My own son could have tried to pull this stunt on me, but unfortunately for him, I would have smelled that one coming a mile away.
The following afternoon we were driving around running errands and I asked him if he had heard how the party had gone. He started texting his friends, one of which replied, “It sucked, all
everyone did was sit around and smoke pot all night. No one even danced.” Interesting, I thought to myself, but I was more intrigued to find out where the parents were at. My son asked his friend my question, “They were upstairs in their room the whole night,” his friends answered. Niiiiceee! Another friend replied it was awesome, and that he did a face plant in the pool diving in, people stripped out of their clothes to go swimming, and some kids grabbed everyone’s clothes and threw it over the bushes. Sounded more like a college party to me rather than a 15/16 year old party. “He must have been high,” I told my son, “That’s why he had such a good time.” My son asked his friend, “Did you smoke?” To which he replied, “No, but I really wanted to. This girl kept blowing smoke in my face all night.” LMAO! Nuff said!
Fortunately, nothing violent happened, no one got seriously injured and the cops were not called. But I’m still glad I stuck to my decision. And maybe he is maturing? Or not! The next week he asked if he could go to this other party. “It’s not the same girls. This time it’s the chonga girls throwing the party. There won’t be any smoking. Only booze.”
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