I’m Angry

Over the winter school break, five teens in my area decided to steal one of daddy’s cars and go joy-riding. Fair enough. I think we all did stupid stuff when we were 13-15 (and 16 and 17 and 18 and 21 and 25 and 35…). You would expect them to get busted, grounded and reminded of it when they turn into parents of teens, right? Not in this case. On this night, the 14 year old unlicensed driver decided it would be funny to try to scare the others in the vehicle by driving at a very high rate of speed and jerking the steering wheel. He hit a curb, plowed into a tree and the car burst into flames. He died that night. Four others were able to get out of the car. One more died this past weekend. He lived on my block. I did not know him personally. My kids are three years old and under, so the 14 year old set doesn’t bat an eye our way when passing us on the sidewalk.

Life isn’t supposed to be complicated or tragic for children. Tell me you didn’t do stupid things when you were a teenager. Tell me you haven’t done stupid things as an adult. I’d like to think I’m not the only one. And I’d like to think that by God’s grace I’ve had the opportunity to learn (or not) from the things I’ve done. I have no regrets in life because I think I am an amazing compilation of goofs and triumphs that makes up “me.” But not everyone is lucky enough to look back on life like this.

So what do I do? What would you do? There is nothing to do. You can talk a blue streak to your kids, but ultimately it is up to them to make wise or foolish decisions. What you say does matter, but during those years of growth spurts and explosive hormones unfortunately, what their friends say matters too.

I wish this were the only thing that’s keeping me up at night, but it’s not. The other thing is that my own child has had her fair share of obstacles to deal with in her short life. She’s an ebullient, brilliant, beautiful ball of energy who struggles with focus issues… in a nutshell, she’s an intense little lady for three years of age. We know her triggers and we are constantly working on ways to introduce her to resources to help her solve problems or handle new situations with the least amount of stress. That’s my job and I am grateful to have it and I wouldn’t change her for the world. Unfortunately, my job just got harder. She’s been having seizures. Three in the past week, to be exact. Not the scary kind (grand mall) or the kinda get your wondering kind (Petit mal or absence seizures), but seizures nonetheless. I’m not a medical doctor (or any kind of doctor), but the symptoms most closely resemble this: Benign Rolandic Epilepsy. If this is indeed what she has, it should hopefully resolve by puberty (GREAT! Just in time for her to make stupid mistakes). If not, we should know more after our trip to the pediatric neurologist (pending scheduling on their end). It’s not the end of the world. It’s not the end of her world, but I’m angry nonetheless.

5 thoughts on “I’m Angry

  1. I think I’ve said it here before, but in some respects it’s a miracle I’m still around. I was one of those teenagers who looked danger right in the face before slapping it upside the head. It’s sad that it goes this way for some. But, perhaps their friends can learn from that.

    I can understand your anger. We want nothing but the best for our kids and when something goes wrong either organically or by their own decisions, it just doesn’t seem like the road is paved anymore. It’s rough, bumpy, with occasional and hideous potholes that, quite simply, wreck you. You hope that the road ahead is much smoother, but the fact is you don’t know. All you know is that you keep building up your vehicle with better shock absorbers, bigger wheels and tires, a more powerful engine and so on. That way, if the road is just as rocky or rockier, you have the equipment you need.

    Sorry to use a car analogy if you’re not into cars, but it seemed applicable. I guess the short version is that we can’t change the world around us, but we can change ourselves…and we do, subconsciously, so that we can cope. Right now, your anger is installing a supercharger.

  2. As a mother of a newly turned teen, I worry daily…by minute what my son must be thinking, feeling, and may do. I remember my teenagedom and I don’t think I was really too bad. Mostly I was confused and troubled, but I didn’t do anything drastic. I can tell my son is very moody, as I am. I wonder if he might be bipolar, as I am. If so, he could very well act out in a manic episode and do God knows what. The only thing I can do is talk to him and love him and hope and pray he makes good judgements in life. He’s a brilliant young man and I think he’ll be ok, so long as he knows I’m alway here no matter what.

  3. Its scary when we watch kids around us make terrible mistakes…
    I have thought much about how one can safe proof your child from making really bad choices. In my field its hard to figure why two children raised so similarly can be so different in the end . I recognize that all kids make mistakes somewhere along the way ( I know too many people I grew up with who were never allowed to make mistakes and then spent many years recovering from that ) Mistakes are what help us grow up and make better choices but at the same time How can we minimize the dangerousness of those mistakes so none jeopardize lives either. That is the question I ponder on a daily basis, especially now while hubby and I are anxious to have children of our own.
    Let us know what happens with your daughter and the neurologist. Good luck. And may you have lots of strength and fortitude to deal with what comes.

  4. For what it’s worth…
    The only time I criticize parents for the behavior of their children is when they act surprised. You may not be responsible for your children’s choices, but you are not allowed to be surprised by the choices they make. It is your job to be paying attention to them.

    As for you, if you’re noticing this behavior in your child at the age of three, I dare say you are paying attention. Your child is fortunate. Children raised by involved parents make good human beings.

    Thanks from all the rest of us who have to live with them.

  5. Hi all,

    Love the new look etc…

    Yes we all did really stupid things as kids and I *know* I still do stupid things. And sometimes I learn and someitmes I still do stupid things.

    I took a different approach with both of my kids because they were two very different people and they responded in very different ways. My daughter was doing stupid things both in my face and behind my back and I came to realise there was absolutely nothing I could do to help or change things for her.
    She’s a mom now and she’s a wonderful mom and I know she is going to wrestle with the same ‘issues’ as I did – which are – knowing how much you can intercede in your kids’ lives and knowing when to step back.

    My son is a different animal – he’s got his head firmly on his shoulders – he is not a sheep and he very rarely does stupid things – in fact he tells me how stupid he thinks teens are today. Do I still worry – you bet – do I still state those worries – you bet – why – not so much because I fear *his* stupid acts – but because I fear him being out with others and not being able to control *their* stupidity. And perhaps we should not even be referring to it as stupid acts – perhaps it’s all about growing up and having ‘experiences’ good, bad, horrific, wonderful you name it…

    In the end all you can do is lay the groundwork and hope that they pay attention and hope that they value themselves as human beings whose lives are worth something – that they feel wanted and loved. I pray a lot sometimes – but all in all, seeing the things I see every day in that big bad world of ours – I feel pretty blessed and lucky that my children ended up the way they did.

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