Every parent has a few. Even if they're imaginary, fueled by our own self-doubt and paranoid imagination. We all have them. The folks who would love to see you crash and burn. Especially if you have chosen a path far off the beaten one. Made decisions, allowances, affordances, plans, or simply expressed ideas that skirt the outside of normal, or even crush normal in a fist and toss back in the face of the masses.
Really, you don't even need to do anything different. Sometimes, it is simply the fact that you are you. There will be people who just don't fucking like you. Or perhaps you maintain a casual relationship but have never seen eye to eye. Or anything and nothing at all.
But they are there. They may not hang their hats on it. They probably don't stalk you. Most of the time, they may not even think about it very often. And even more times, it may all just be in your imagination. But they are there. And they'd love nothing more than to know that your kid got knocked up. Or wound up in jail. Or knocked somebody else up. Or got hooked on meth. Or is an illiterate bum.
Parenting is a simmering shithole of competition to begin with. Just find any random Facebook conversation about parenting styles, totally random, just pick one. There is guaranteed to be an air of pretension mixed with a dash of superiority complex mixed with a tad of I'm-better-than-you.
Homeschooling is a hot button issue. No doubt. It causes you to be self-doubting to begin with, and that self-doubt causes your paranoia to ratchet up a couple notches. My simmer has cooled tremendously over the last few years. But I'd still bet a paycheck that there exist a few peeps who would get a tingle in their no-no spot if Andrew stole the car or if Jake flunked out of his first college class. Paranoia be damned, I know they're out there.
And so today, I'd like to throw those haters and gaters and doubters and pouters a bone. Here is some fuel. Here is your chance. Get ready, because I'mma bout to blow yer OHMIGOD right out of the water.
In about 3 weeks, I will put my oldest chillin on an airplane by himself so that he can fly 8 states and 2250 miles away to meet his girlfriend of 4 years for the first time ever. EVER. Not only that, but he is going to spend 4 days there, at her house, to celebrate her 18th birthday.
Why are Sarge and I allowing this? Well. There are a couple of reasons. First of all, Jake is 17 years old. Second of all, he's never given us a single reason in 17 years not to trust him and a million reasons TO trust him.
Her parents invited him. Her parents paid for the ticket. They are good people. She's a sweet girl. They will be chaperoned by her parents at all times except in the middle of the night and any other time they turn their backs during which time anything can happen. Obviously.
It's really no different than a school trip. A bunch of kids on a bus, staying in hotel rooms. With an adult/kid ratio of 1:10 at best.
And lastly, because Jake has asked before and we have always had great and obvious and clear reasons to say no. This time, we had no reason. Sarge and I just kind of looked at each other, scratched our heads, and said "Why not?"
Clearly, we have never walked the beige straight-and-narrow with our boys. We've eschewed the norms. Not for the sake of being different, but because it has just happened that all of the things we felt were right for our kids and our family have just been different.
Honestly? I am excited for Jake. He's going on an adventure. Adventures rock. Kids deserve to be trusted until they give us a reason not to. Kids need to be given opportunities. Opportunities to shine and opportunities to fuck up. They need to be given the credit and respect they have earned, at least for those who have earned it.
Safety is always an issue. But it would be in any other "socially accepted" circumstance, as well. Exchange student. Going to visit a grandparent or a divorced parent. No different than putting a 12-year-old on a plane by himself. Except Jake is more self-sufficient and resourceful than most 20-somethings.
So. There ya go. Lap it up and lick the bowl clean, you nasty dogs, you! It's the moment you've waited for. I'll even keep you up to date on all the shocking fuck-ups as they rear their ugly heads. I'll even stand still while you say, "I told ya so."
For the record, Andrew thinks we've lost our minds.
He's gonna make a fabulous daddy one day ;-)
Or car thief.