Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Your Mileage May Vary

My wife and I have children. They don't regard themselves as children, of course, as well they shouldn't. My son, Patrick is 25 and his sister, my daughter, Michelle, will be 21 in May. In essence, and by law, they are adults. Except no matter how old they, and we their parents, get, they will always be our children. Sometimes, I have trouble remembering the 'adults' part of the agreement but, were I to be honest, I always have trouble with the 'children' part.

I mention this because here in the Land of Steady Habits, there's a growing movement in our state capital to 'fix the teenage driving problem'. When my children were 'my kids' and growing up, we had a fix: I could afford only one car, and I drove it. I realize there are many parents across the region, and perhaps the country, who think it's a Constitutional mandate to buy a car for each child when a sixteenth birthday is celebrated. I guess my financial state made me a violator of that article and my children survived my failure.

We have graduated licensing and restrictions here in CT on young drivers, not NEW drivers, that limit the number of occupants in the car, the hours of vehicle operation and, for all I know, what radio stations can be listened to (it's different for the highways and for the built-up areas, which may come as little surprise to you). And it looks like shortly there will be more legislation because that's worked out so well so far.

Hey, if you've got young drivers in your house, you have my sympathy. And if you HAD them, we're in the same heart-in-your-throat club. To this day, because I see them as 'my children' and NOT as 'the adults I raised', when the phone rings, especially late at night, and I see one of their numbers in the caller ID box, I have a mantra. 'please God, no' that I recite 18 bajillion times between the second and the third ring, which is when I answer the phone. Nothing gets my sweat pumps working faster or harder than those phone calls. If you're in the club, you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

I'm not sure, for those who are going to be joining our little group how anything that gets legislated will make anyone any safer. I don't really need a representative from Meriden, or Madison or anywhere else telling my kids, or yours, how to color in the lines. That's my job, and yours. Children have to be carefully taught, and who else should be doing that but their Moms and Dads?
You show a child your love when you look out for them and set boundaries and define expectations. They have and make their own buddies and chums; they need parents to be parents.

We parents have tech support from educators (and others) and I always appreciated that especially since my calculus skills were terrible. But we need to stop thinking, hoping or planning on anyone other than us to raise our children. Our parents wound up surrendering some of their prerogatives when we were small and that worked out so well for everyone, right?
I think I have an allergy to this hula skirt. Where's Jack Lord when I really need him?
-bill kenny

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