Saturday, July 21, 2012

Page 83 Teenaged Drivers

This is an absolutely true story

Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.                     Elbert Hubbard

I don’t know what compels people to make the decisions they do. And I am tired of trying to figure it out myself, so I’ll leave it up to you my beloved readers.
So ... you buy a brand new vehicle. A truck. And big nice new black truck with car payments close to $400 and monthly insurance close to the same. You hand the keys to a 16 year old girl who just got her license.

Yes, you read it, but let me say it again.

You hand the keys to a 16 year old girl who just got her license. .

What do you expect? .

I will grant you that our relationship was new and Willie wanted to be the best thing in my life. The way to do that, in her mind, was to be some sort of sainted Buddhist and give up anything paramount to sense, in order to show that she would do ANYTHING for me. She knew…she HAD to know that this was not going to go well. I mean…the kid wasn’t going to get the keys to my BMW. Well…that’s not exactly the truth. But as of that date, no. No keys to mom’s car. I knew better.
The only reason 16 year olds want cars is to be able to have a loud obnoxious stereo system that they can take anywhere with them and torture the general public. And that means changing the radio station while in traffic. Moving traffic. Flicking thru the songs to find that perfect tune with the loudest bass so EVERYONE can be tortured. No longer would they confine that privilege to the parents, the household. Now it was the world’s problem. And this manipulation of electronics usually occurs when the car is moving. I don’t think it is any small coincidence that more cars got into accidents and cost teenagers lives at two exits north on I-45 of Spring High school. The most overindulged kids in Houston’s bedroom communities are on the North end just past the city limits, north of FM 1960. Having explained that to you, I will resume my thought pattern and memory recollections and tell you that when your child calls and says “I’m sorry", before saying why, you can conclude they crashed your car.

… or killed someone.

No one got killed because luckily, no one was in the driveway at Jennifer Fellwock’s house and the only victim was a mailbox. But she put a good dent in Willie’s less than 24 hour old Ford.
Willie and I, with hearts heavy climbed in the still pristine Bemer and made the 5 minute drive to Jennifer’s house, without saying a word. I was past the point of apologizing for my child’s behavior. I didn’t give her the keys, nor would I. This was Willie’s bailiwick.

The minute we got there, Devo ran into Willie’s arms crying hysterically, apologizing profusely. I enjoyed this scene as I leaned against my car with arms folded in judgment. Isn’t that what that means? Body language. Folded arms…judgment. Anyhow, it was the most comfortable position.
All was forgiven. Willie and Devo went to Home Depot, bought a new mailbox for the Fellwock’s and together rectified the postal situation. As for the truck, for whatever reason, Willie NEVER got it fixed. I don’t know why. But of course I can speculate. As long as that damage remained, I could be reminded daily that Willie was a wonderful caregiver who put aside her own material longings to please a child. Hogwash...but there it is.

The car situation stayed in the forefront of our lives for two more years. Devo had 6 accidents in less than a year. She crashed my grey 535i twice; finally totaling it. (Ok, I gave in. It had to happen and I won’t bother to explain- or apologize - my misplaced confidence). Add to that, she totaled the loaner from my Bemer mechanic and then finally she crashed my white 650i and I was through. Willie bought her a car, a little used deal for around $150. She put a stereo close to a thousand dollars in it.

 YES!!!! She did that!!!! .

Amazingly Devo was through crashing cars, or perhaps, because it was her own, she respected it more, who knows.

We paid everything, including gas and insurance. That was not the child’s idea. She wanted to work. But with her school schedule and extracurricular activities, I was very concerned that if she worked her grades would fall. I wanted her to have the best teenage years a child could have.

Mother’s do that. This is especially true with their teenaged daughters.

I had a shitty teenaged career. My parents were divorcing and using me as a pawn in their game. I was not a very pretty or confident child, so I was bullied quite often. It wasn’t till I was 16 that I started to grow out of the ugly duckling phase. But by then I was in the custody of the social worker, Jeanne Ihlenfeldt, who took sympathy on my plight and wanted to give me a stable home life. Unfortunately she inherited a child who had no idea what to do with her newfound beauty. That coupled with a vulnerable emotional state and carte blanche clothing and makeup allowance, I was a piece of work.

Jeanne was a wonderful person. Unfortunately she took on this responsibility when I was at my worse. Sixteen year olds are not the easiest to supervise much less to take full custody. But she loved me. None the less, I have nothing but sad memories of high school. I am not brilliant, but I am clever and had I the kind of adult mentoring that I made certain my daughter had, I am certain I would be a wealthy person today. Not monetarily, necessarily, but intellectually and emotionally.
Devo was in college level programs. She had debate and she was the historian for her group. I truly believe that the reason she did so well in ALL her subjects was because she did all the research for her fellow academics. This meant researching history, geography, science, biographical and other manuscripts, even the silver screen and finally math. She could quote anyone.

She had TWO dollies that she carried around a half dozen of those huge RubberMade tubs filled with files. When the team arrived on site, they were given a subject, written on a piece of paper that they would be required to debate. Devo would then pull all the files related to that subject and the orator would have 30 minutes to study this data and prepare. So in addition to her research, she had to have above average script. She never used the internet as it wasn’t available in our house, and it wasn’t as popular an avenue then. Even today, with the net, this would be a lofty assignment.

Imagine using the encyclopedia (which we had purchased the full large leather bound Britannica’s with the books of the year and medical additions), the library and having to transfer everything by hand or at best, word processor.

A funny story: When they arrived on site for a tournament, they were to be given slips of paper with the subject matter they were going to address or argue. But they arrived late and so Devo told them their topic. One of the young men was given Euthanasia.

…sound it out….




Yes, even the most intelligent can be stupid.

As Devo was making her rounds to the classrooms where adult judges were listening to arguments, she happened upon this young man in the throes of arguing for the young adults in the Orient, she slumped, aghast, in a desk as she watched this diatribe unfold. But that was her job and I think her only fupau.

We come full circle to whereof I speak. She was far too busy to work. She also went to Debate camp at University of Texas in Austin for two weeks, sometimes up to five. One year she debated at Harvard.

She was sculpting her future and I felt certain I made the right decision. And remember, we were still recouping from her trip to Hawaii which cost her points on her GPA, her mantra since kindergarten. The minute these kids learn what those three letters mean, they live for it.
And Devo may just as well had those letters engraved on her brow.

Thank God we don’t live in New York. At least I didn’t have to deal with the preschool situation.  I can only speculate what I would have done to get her into the 92nd Street Y . (An organization that has more pull in the lives of young parents than the most influential leader of the strongest country on earth!) .

So, having explained all this, I will tell you one of the very worst things I have EVER done as a mother.

No, I didn't have her radio pulled.


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