Fear is a great motivator. Sometimes it drives you to do the right thing, and other times, it may lead you to do the easy thing. In parenting M, a combination of both became our weekly routine.
The Right Thing…
The weekend before his birthday he snuck out of the house and headed to a party a few miles away. (I’m not exactly sure of the transportation details, but it probably involved either a scooter, a skateboard, a bicycle, or a little ATV.) The morning after said violation, we began to put the pieces together. By lunchtime, an email furnished us with more clues. And by dinnertime, we had completed the big, disturbing puzzle.
We grounded him for one week, and this turned out to be significant because it meant that he was now grounded for his 16th birthday. And what a relief that was since he had been announcing all month that he was “probably” going to get drunk on his birthday because that’s what “usually” happens on birthdays….WHAT?!? I don’t know what was more difficult for my brain to process…the fact that he was talking about drinking like it was legal for 16 year old kids or the fact that he actually had no problem telling me of his plans. Do some kids just not fear getting in trouble or doing illegal things anymore?
He spent his 16th birthday with his family, we ate at the hibachi-style restaurant down the road, and then he spent the night at his grandparents’ house.
The Easy Road…
But then there are plenty examples of days that I threw in the towel and threw up my hands. Often he’d call to “check-in” upon arriving at his “friend’s” house, and many of those nights I should have hopped in my minivan to snag him. But, I think I was afraid of what I’d find.
Or how about all the times he said he didn’t have any homework, and I would utter, “Oh…okay,” Then I’d mumble to myself, “If I fight him on this one, we’ll be up all night.”
I started looking in the mystery bag – a month later he was at the military academy.