She said she was walking around the lake blowing off some steam. We can dig that. After all, it’s hard being an unemployed 17-year-old high school senior. Today’s kids have so much to worry about. Instead of helping Mom and Dad milk the cows, feed the chickens, gather vegetables for dinner from the farm’s garden, or fetch water from the family well a few acres away, teens today are tasked with regurgitating biased textbook word barf, and then updating Instagram or Snapchat with a clever (usually not-so-clever) pun, selfie, or exhibitionist video. It’s a lot to ask.
It wasn’t the walk, or the steam-blowing that was the problem. When Mom came home early today, the front door was unlocked. Mom walked outside and called her daughter, getting the “walking around the lake” story. Since Mom couldn’t see her angel anywhere around the lake in front of her home, Mom wondered exactly which lake her daughter was walking around. A few minutes later, after ignoring Mom’s frantic phone calls, daughter was dropped off around the corner from a certain red automobile, and scurried home, all within the view of Mom’s perch on the second floor.
Of course, daughter freaked out and denied everything. She had never been caught red-handed, so an adolescent overreaction was apropos. As that great philosopher Greg House once said, everyone lies. And eventually, everyone gets caught.
Mom was understandably pissed. She immediately collected her daughter’s smartphone, tablet, and car keys. That’s exactly the damage control any parent should do the moment her kid goes AWOL. Collect all the information you can, assess the situation, then issue a punishment that fits the crime.
Mom thought about it for a while, her mind racing a million miles a minute imagining all the other times that might have been untruths. Wondering what her baby was doing in some random red car with some strange boy. Pondering the potential effects of her daughter’s actions and how they might derail her education, and possibly life. And considering that dingleberry left the front door unlocked potentially endangering the rest of the fam, something had to be done to use this experience to teach a powerful lesson. Never scorn Mom.
It was her first offense – that Mom knew about, anyway. If the punishment was too drastic, Mom risked completely losing her daughter’s trust. She thought she could better use this snag as a teaching opportunity – to explain the dangers of riding with boys; the responsibility of teenage pregnancy; the permanency of sexually transmitted diseases; the opportunity cost of derailing from that 4.5 GPA she worked so hard to achieve; and how stupid it is to leave a front door unlocked in today’s crazy world. Mom knew she couldn’t let her daugher slide, but maybe a first strike shouldn’t be punished so harshly.
She offered her daughter amnesty – an opportunity to spill her guts, tell Mom all the other times she may not have been honest, and get everything out there in the open – all with no fear of retribution or severe punishment. Surprisingly, her daughter complied.
Mom gave back the phone, her tablet, and her keys. But she also let her daughter know she was grounded for a week or two. She now would have to let Mom know where she was going, when she was going, and when she’d be back. And perhaps the worst was knowing that Mom was keeping an extra special close eye on her.