Monday, July 21, 2008

Sweet 16

As of this posting, it’s only a three sentence story in the SJ-R about an (allegedly) drunk teenage girl crashing into a house in the wee hours of Sunday morning, but it brings a number of things to my mind.

Fortunately, there are no comments below the story, but if there were they would be full of smug, self-righteous denunciations of the parents of this girl. “Where were they?!” “The parents should be arrested for letting their teenager be out so late!” “The parenting sucks!” I get tired of that stuff. Sure, good parenting goes a long way, but it’s not hard to get past even the best of parents if you are a determined and sneaky teenager. I know, I was one. And I’ve raised more than one.
Most teenagers are intelligent but really, really unwise. Short of locking the kids in the basement, there’s always going to be an opportunity at some point for them to do something really stupid. So if you are a parent who has never had any trouble with a teenager, you are either very lucky or have been completely bamboozled by your teen. I have no idea what led up to this girls (allegedly) drunken house crashing, and she deserves everything she’s going to get, but I can think of scenarios where the parents really aren’t the culprits. One easy example, she simply sneaks out of the house after everyone’s asleep. That was a tried and true feat even in my day.

One thing I do question though, is the paper not publishing her name because she’s a minor? In this case, I think it should be published. She grossly abused an adult privilege and should be held accountable for it as an adult. Otherwise, let’s not let 16 year-olds drive. I have a lot of misgivings about the way we treat 16-20 year-olds. There’s too much inconsistency in the level of “adultness” we grant them. You can vote and serve in the military at 18 but you cannot drink. You can drive a car at 16, but can’t vote or drink. I guess there are some advantages to being old like me.

And finally, there’s the injured person who was sleeping in their house when a car came crashing through the bedroom wall in the middle of the night. This has always been a phobia of mine (I’ve been posting about a lot of them lately for some reason). I see houses all the time that are at the end of a street, like a T-intersection, or on a curve and I can’t help but think sooner or later some vehicle, maybe driven by a drunk 16 year-old, is going to come crashing into the house. And if a bedroom is at the front of the house, well, you are really asking for trouble. Bedrooms need to be at the back of the house or upstairs or you might just wind up sucking on an oil pan in the middle of the night.

1 comment:

johanndropsablog said...

I actually agree with you here. I'm typically one of the first, every time there is a "youth gone wrong" story, to jump all over the parents for their "obviously" failed attempts at child-rearing. And in many cases, I do feel it's justified.

But you're right- all the parenting in the world can't keep a determined 16-year-old from sneaking out late at night and imbibing. Not that "not getting caught" makes it right by any means, but double decades-plus ago (I'm 40 now) when I was a know-it-all invincible teenager, I guess I was just a little better at covering my tracks, or at least not allowing myself to get into such a severe situation.

I have two boys, 7 and 3, so I know that roughly ten years from now, I will have many a sleepless night on my hands, but all I can do is keep trying to "do the right thing" by my kids (whatever the hell THAT is) and hope for the best that they don't get hammered and park next to some poor schlub's nightstand.

And I also agree with you regarding the inconsistencies in the level of "adultness" we give them.

Just my unsolicited two shiny Lincolns.

--Johann