Cautionary tale

Disclaimer: If you don’t want to worry more about your children than you already do, please read no further! In other words, goodbye, everyone, and enjoy the rest of your day 😉

Once upon a time there was a girl who was really smart on paper. She took poetry classes at a local university during her last two years of high school. She was always on honor roll, took AP courses in every subject, and earned a perfect score (back in the day that was an 800) on her English SAT. She regularly collected the gold “summa cum laude” medal with her annual National Latin Exam results. She won the English prize at high school graduation and was one of the handful of kids in her graduating class inducted into her school’s Cum Laude Society. She was hardworking, too, and responsible about her schoolwork, never skipping classes or leaving things until the last minute. Even in college, despite the fact that her freshman MWF 8:00-9:00 am Calculus class was a twenty minute walk from her dorm, the only classes she missed were one Wednesday in April when she traveled home for the birth of her sister. She made Dean’s List one semester after another and collected her diploma at graduation with honors. See? Smart on paper.

This girl, however, was also really, really stupid. At the same time that she was hitting the books and earning academic accolades, she was also climbing through her bedroom window out onto the roof to smoke the Camel Light Menthols (easily the stupidest cigarettes ever) she’d bought from Habib, the guy who worked at a local gas station, using a terrible fake ID she’d gotten on a trip with friends to Washington DC for that express purpose. This girl threw a party at her house one weekend when her parents were out of town and she was supposed to be staying with a friend, and then took the stupidity to the next level by mailing off a disposable camera to have the photos from the party developed, only to have her mother get the mail a couple of weeks later and and open the packet of pictures because, well, it was addressed to her. Despite having been caught in the act, this girl threw ANOTHER house party a year or two later, during which people got so out of hand that a huge glass vase full of marbles smashed on a bedroom floor, and one of the guys had a flashback to a bad LSD trip and punched a hole in the wall. The girl’s solution to this was to move a framed picture from one wall to another to cover up the hole (which was approximately three feet from the ceiling because this boy was TALL, making the small frame look preposterous). See? Stupid. Somehow, her mother was gracious enough to give the girl a Xanax and send her to her room to binge watch Daria, waiting to deal with consequences until she’d slept off her massive hangover.

But it gets worse. This girl also, on more than one occasion, escaped through yet another window, this one belonging to her friend whose bedroom was on the lower floor of a split-level home so that the window, which was approximately 24″ x 36″, terminated right above ground. The two girls would sneak out in the early hours of the morning in the summer and walk to an outdoor pool owned by a local athletic club, climb over the probably ten-foot fence, and jump in the pool. Apparently “pool jumping” was a theme among this girl’s friend group because on a beach trip to Florida for spring break with another friend (also really smart on paper), they would tiptoe out of the rental house in the middle of the night and go jump in pool after pool after pool belonging to the neighboring rental houses while the vacationing families inside may or may not have been sleeping.

Don’t worry; it gets worse still. On at least one occasion, this girl and a group of her friends paid a visit to a country club in the middle of another night, where they proceeded to climb onto the roof of a clubhouse and (you guessed it) jump into the lane pools below. And then, perhaps most stupidly of all, this girl and a different group of friends got into quarry jumping, which is every bit as dangerous as it sounds. Who knows how they knew the location of these quarries, but I’m almost positive they didn’t know just how deep that water below them actually was when their foolish feet left the cliffside.

I have no idea how this girl and her friends somehow escaped injury or major trouble, but I’d have to chalk it up to dumb luck. This is why, when my future teenager brings home a trophy from debate team or a stack of papers with stunning marks, when he’s elected to student council or placed in accelerated courses, when her report card is comprised of glowing comments or she patents her idea for a digital locket necklace before she can drive, I’m not going to be any less nervous. If the technology exists by then for parents to microchip their teenagers with a constantly trackable GPS sensor so that their location can be pinpointed through an app on their parents’ phones at any moment of any day, let’s just say I’ll allow notifications.

P.S. I’m sorry, Mom and Dad. In all fairness, though, I did include a disclaimer up there that maybe you shouldn’t have ignored.

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