Tonight, I drove Jarryd to a birthday party at about 8.30pm with strict instructions not to go anywhere else and that I will pick him up at midnight as we had agreed or he could call earlier if the party finished early. When we got there....there were about 20 kids sitting outside the gate...spilling onto the footpath....like they were loitering there! Again...repeated my instructions and felt more at ease when a few of Jarryd's friends came outside and told me that the kids outside were not invited. I wish I could have gone up to the door and said hello to the parents and just checked that things were ok...but that is a big no no for a parent of a teen to do. My son would have been mortified....so I did what a cool parents was supposed to do...said bye, have fun and see you at midnight.
When I went to pick him up, I was glad to see that there were no kids hanging around outside. I was a couple of minutes early...and he came out right on time with a friend Michael.....asking if I would be able to drive Michael home. This party is only 5 mins away from home and Michael's house is not on the way home...but not a huge detour either....so no probs at all. On the way....they were telling me....like excited 14 year olds how there were gate crashers....how only 20 or so kids were invited but double or more the amount came and were turned away by the birthday girl's mother. But instead of going away...the gate crashers sat outside the house for a couple of hours before the girl's mother threatened to call the police. They said how the party was a bit boring...at 14...they don't dance....lol....so they had dance music on....talked above the dance music, ate and drank. A true tween party. LOL
After dropping Michael home, I interrogated a little more...very gently of course....and found out that the birthday girl's mother was the only adult present....wtf......what kind of parent will willingly deal with 20+ teenagers on her own??? A very brave one....she underestimated big time!!! I also found out that Michael was going to walk home with another friend...but that friend went to another party...so Michael was going to walk home alone. This is not a short walk...this is a half hour walk....at midnight....in the dark and the cold. What kind of parent let's their 14 year old child walk home in the middle of the night???
Joseph and I are very protective parents....we hope we are not stifling parents...but we are protective....we want to know where our kids are....who they are with....how they will get there...how and when they will come home...etc Isn't that what all parents do? We need to know these things! From the time they are born....we've had our Mummy/Daddy radars up and running.....we have to know where our kids are and we need to know that they are safe. We let our kids attend parties, sleepovers and even the occasional all night cyber cafe lan games sessions. We take them there and we pick them up. We will drive their friends home as well and lately....we seem to have been doing that a lot....driving teenagers home in the middle of the night. And the big question always seems to be....Don't these kids feel that they can call their parents to pick them up in the middle of the night? Don't these parents ASK how their kids are going to get home??? Or maybe Joseph and I have become the designated taxi drivers for our son's friends? If there are a few kids there...we always ask if they need a lift home...we always offer.....I would worry if I knew kids were walking home in the middle of the night. I would feel guilty!! And these kids.....they're very comfortable in our people mover...never any uncomfortable silence...they just all sit in the back (we have a 7 seater)...and chatter away...telling us what they've been up to and then chattering away among themselves...and the sweet thing is they call me Mum.
So....are we too over protective as parents? Or are some other parents more lax? At what age do you let go and let them get themselves home? I kind of thought ....when they start driving and can get themselves home. And even then...I want them to be able to call us and say "Mum, I've been drinking...I don't think I should drive...can you come and pick me up?"....even if it is at 3am....even if they are 30....I don't care... I will go and pick them up.....I want them to be able to call me at any time....I need them to be able to count on me...depend on me. It's all part of being a parent isn't it??? WDYT??