Last week I wrote about my tween needing more parenting. This week, it’s my 17-year-old.
Remember the crazy monsoon last Wednesday evening? My oldest was scheduled to go to dinner at a teammate’s house after swim practice. I thought practice was ending early and assumed she would be leaving to drive to the party around 5 or 5:30 p.m. So at 6 p.m., I texted her and asked if she had arrived safely and to let me know when she was leaving.
It was right about then that the major storm started rolling in. It was pouring down rain, thundering, crazy windy and there was a threat of tornados. She texted back that they had gotten out late and were about to leave. The party was a half an hour away, and the traffic was almost worse than the weather. She also had homework to do and bags to pack because we were leaving for a swim meet the next day.
So I texted her:
It is BAD out there. I would urge you not to go. Hail. Wind. Rain. Tornado possible. Stupid.
She texted back:
I promised people I would drive them. Says it will take 30 min. I will drive very carefully.
I texted back:
And when the tree falls on your car? Those parents will be so happy with you.
Yes, it was passive aggressive parenting at its finest. I was mad that she wasn’t making a good choice and torn about what to do. Overall Maggie is an amazing teenager. She’s smart, driven, sweet and good to the core. She’s never rolled her eyes at me (not that I’ve ever seen), and I’ve never had to tell her no. This was new to me.
I didn’t hear back from her for over an hour, when she finally texted that she had made it to the party. I texted back that if this happened again, I would just say no. “It’s not worth the risk,” I told her. Here’s what she texted back:
“I know. Didn’t realize it was so bad. Wish you had just said no in the first place and not left the option open.”
Since then, I’ve given the situation a lot of thought. I’m still not sure if I did the right thing. She quickly found out why I was urging her not to go. Driving in a storm is hard and scary and dangerous. It was a good lesson for her. On the other hand, something could have easily gone wrong, and it would have been my fault.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Most of the time, I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants, just praying it all works out. Luckily, this time it did.
Next time, I’m saying no.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 17, Lilly, 15, Adam, 15, and Jonah, 11.