- Girls Gone Wild.
A while ago, my daughter went away for her first trip with just friends. They took the train to Montreal to have fun. Although she was 17 at the time, and the drinking age in Montreal is 18, I could only imagine what the ‘fun’ would entail.
Before you judge me, I don’t condone teenage drinking. But at the same time, I’m not stupid, and more importantly, I need my girl to know that I’m not stupid. I’d prefer that she doesn’t lie to me, and that she realizes that I know what she and her friends are up to. I’d like her to tell me what’s going on using her words rather than getting hit with a big surprise when I see the evidence on Facebook.
My job is to keep her safe, and to teach her how to keep herself safe. That’s why I address potentialities before the fact, rather than having to backtrack and freak out on her afterwards, which is otherwise known as the ‘not fun part of parenting’.
It’s hard to imagine your babies growing up. But they do. And they go to Montreal, or wherever, and to University parties, and wear Barbie costumes and makeup, and smile at older boys. They have to. It’s life. But life is more complicated than it was when we were young. Teenagers have too many choices, too many wrong paths to choose from.
When I was a teenager, my parents’ advice consisted of:
-Don’t be stupid
-Be home by 12 or else
I’m not kidding. That was it. There were no cell phones to reach me with, and they figured they’d raised me right, and/or they didn’t figure that there was a whole lot I could get into. Either that, or they were purposefully naive. Truth be told, I was a bit of a goody two shoes, and although there was probably trouble to be found, I mostly stayed out of it.
We all know the world is different now. Not only do teenagers party more, drink more, and think they’re smarter, they are so connected that word of any excitement gets around faster than Clark Kent can channel Superman in his phone booth. (What’s a phone booth? If you have to ask, forget it, you’re too young to be reading this.)
Plus, there’s a whole new world of drugs out there much more extensive than the pot that was everywhere ‘in my day’. According towww.drugfreeworld.com, there are 17 street names for Ecstasy alone.
OBVIOUSLY, the best advice is Don’t Drink at all. But, while I’d like her to follow a no-drinking rule, similar to our non-negotiable NO DRUGS THEY’LL KILL YOU rule, the probability of her doing so is…well, I wouldn’t take those odds. So, because it’s my job to try to keep her safe, I talk to my kid, in a non-judgemental way, before she goes out.
This is the advice I give to her (along with the usual You’d better answer my text messages within 3 minutes or I’m hunting you down):
- Don’t leave your drink unattended. EVER EVER EVER EVER
- Don’t invite anybody you meet back to your hotel room. They will text it out and you’ll have a trashed hotel and be out on the street before you can blink. Or, they’ll be psychokillers, and then..(well, unimaginable).
- Don’t get drunk and walk around the street tippling over and barfing in an alley. Not to mention dangerous, it’s really not classy. Don’t get drunk and act stupid. More specifically, don’t get so drunk that you don’t know you’re so drunk and acting stupid.
- Don’t wear a skirt so short, you can see your panties (she assured me, by the way, that she was wearing booty shorts under her Barbie costume).
- Don’t post ‘Girls Gone Wild’ pictures on your Facebook, particularly as a live play-by-play.
- Those boys are ‘older’ (I didn’t elaborate, but she knew what I meant).
- If you sense trouble, get out. No fun is worth trouble.
- Use your brains. Don’t take drugs. Eat your vegetables. Act like I raised you.
And off she went with her little suitcase, some cash, and probably a mickey hidden in her purse. And I cried, just a little.