My high school senior is about to head off to college. Throughout his teenage years, I’ve been adhering to a parenting philosophy called Denial, in which I assume my precious angel will never touch girls, drugs or alcohol.
I acknowledge that this philosophy may have its weaknesses. So, on the off chance that Denial is ineffective, once in a while—immediately after listening to NPR—I blurt out my expectations for teenage behavior: “Do not ever try heroin! It can kill you the very first time!”
This Denial/Fear Factor strategy has worked pretty well for us up until now. But it’s weird: The minute my son confirmed enrollment at Big U, Partytown Campus, so many new blurts came to mind! I needed to get organized. I made a list of blurts. I plan to drop this knowledge into casual conversation with a knowing look, over the top of my glasses for that extra wisdom effect. Here’s how I imagine it will work:
Son: Do we have anything to drink, Mom?
Me: You don’t have to drink just because your friends do, you know.
Son: What is your problem?
Me: Arrive together. Leave together. No one gets left behind.
Me: Don’t drink anything some random hands you. Get your own.
Son: What is wrong with you?
Me: The thing about shots is that they impair your ability to say no to shots.
Son: Were you listening to NPR again?
Me: Never be the drunkest one in the room.
Son: Who are you even talking to?
Me: If you think it might be a good idea to twerk, you are done.
Son: Can you please stop it?
Me: When things go from funny to sad, everybody’s done.
Son: Mom, please!
Me: If you’re a mess or she’s a mess, don’t make a bigger one. Decisions about sex require a clear head.
Son: Oh my God!
Me: Same for tattoos.
Son: Please! Can you not?
Me: Don’t get in the car unless you’re 100 percent sure your driver is stone-cold sober.
Son: I’m leaving.
Me: Use the crosswalk like your mama taught you.
Son: (stomps away)
Me: If you’re debating whether or not to call 911, call 911. No one sleeps off dead.
Son: (slams door)
Me: They call it a walk of shame for a reason. Clean up after yourself, too!
Now that I think of it, this could be a whole new philosophy: Blurt Parenting. If it works out, I’ll write a book. If not, I’ll need a new plan for our middle-schooler. Wish me luck.