Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another Parenting Test

So I have this teenager. Two, actually, but right now it's the oldest (who will be 15 next week) who is on my mind. Homeschooled until his freshman year of high school, The Dark Lord has always been quiet, independent, and not exactly a social butterfly. However his desire to attend public school grew from his need to broaden his social circle and while I had my doubts about how that might evolve at school, I let him go.

The first semester was hard but when the young adult son of The Dark Lord's animation teacher offered to start up and after school manga drawing club, my boy found his people. They had such a good time hanging out together that they decided to keep meeting weekly at the school over the summer. And then I was told that "a bunch of kids were going to go hang out at Alex's house" today. Alex, it turns out is an 18 year old recent graduate who, for reasons unclear to me, lives nowhere near us. "Don't worry Mom. Alex will drive us to his house".

Now I don't know about you but there are few things that fill me with greater terror than a car full of teen boys being driven by yet another teen. I can count at least 5 teens I know of that died needlessly in car accidents. All my crazy fears about these kids hanging out, taking drugs, and having sex all afternoon were completely obliterated by my fear of letting my child in a car with a teen driver.

The Dark Lord, needless to say, felt I was being overprotective and controlling. "Why don't you trust me?" was what I kept hearing from him. What I couldn't seem to get across to him was that it wasn't about trusting him, it was about the other kids, only one of whom I'd met. He begged me to speak with Alex who was supposed to convince me that it was all OK. He told me, quite honestly, that his mom wouldn't be home until a couple of hours after they were getting together but his sisters would be there. He assured me there would be nothing but video games and drawing. And, for better or worse, I believed him.

So we reached a compromise. I drove him over there and met the kids, who seemed like a goofy but completely harmless bunch. No slurred speech or red eyes. Only polite introductions. I invited them to come hang out at our house next week and even provided cookies and soda to further encourage them. And then I left.

Since The Princess is playing at a friend's house and Monkey Boy is at animation camp, I have couple of hours free before work to process this. It feels big, like my boy is taking an important step out into the wider world. And I'm getting challenged once again to find that balance between encouraging independence and keeping him safe.

5 comments:

RedMolly said...

I was just thinking about you and the Dark Lord this morning. I think you're making an important leap here... a terrifying one, but a critically important one. And if I were going to pick a crowd of high school kids for my kids to join, it would definitely be the animation geeks. Much less potential for misbehavior than the jocks, the drama twinkies or even the honor students, IMHO.

This is going to be a scary time, and one I'm not looking much forward to for my own boys. But I think you've done as good a job as anyone could of preparing the Dark Lord for the pressures and crazinesses of adolescent life... now you have to stand back and bite your tongue a little sometimes. Cheers and good luck to you both.

Ali said...

This is the only thing I dread about my kids reaching adolescence--the leaps of faith you have to take. You're doing the right thing but knowing that doesn't make it any easier. Sounds like the DL has found a good crowd to hang with. (But, hey, Molly--no dissing the drama crowd! LOL).

shula said...

Oh, I totally hear you.

Rebecca said...

so great that he found his people. i'm sure that trusting those other kids must be so difficult. i have so much to look forward to....

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Oh, I so know how you feel!

Everytime my boy does something that a bigger step into the greater world, I fret and worry.
But with some precautions, I let him do it. And I keep my worry to myself as much as possible...

At the same time, it looks like you can breathe a big sigh of relief and enjoy this group of boys.