A few years ago, some neighborhood teenagers had a backyard party that kept them boozing until 3 a.m. Which was about the time when one of the partygoers stood in the middle of the road and invited the world to “F— off!”
One or two awoken neighbors yelled at her from their windows. But still the kid insisted on dancing and cussing in the middle of the most trafficked street in our neighborhood — and in a spot that is just two blocks from a major north-south artery in and out of the city.
In other words, a driver in search of a short cut could have easily cut short her monologue in the most life-altering of ways.
I called the cops. I called the cops on the kid and earned a small bit of notoriety on my block as a person who does that sort of thing. You know, a tattletale. A killjoy.
“Just let the teenagers have their fun,” one neighbor whined to me later.
Last week Maryland ’s Attorney General Doug Gansler earned himself some national notoriety for stopping in to see his son at a senior week party in Bethany Beach, Del., last summer and doing nothing to stop the under-aged fun that was going on.
Gansler first said he didn’t know the kids were drinking. But the Instagram evidence showed the attorney general in a pack of Solo-cup clutching teenagers, dancing and singing – and looking pretty much like drunk people at a party.
Freaked out by the impact on his political career – but apparently not by the bent couple freak dancing near him – Gansler has debated with reporters and citizens about what his moral responsibility was.
It’s true the issue of under-aged drinking is a difficult one for parents. One of my friends, for example, really wants her children to get drunk for the first time while they are still in high school, so that when they go off to college they know enough not to get alcohol poisoning, or as she bluntly said, “choke to death on their own vomit.”
A bit extreme. perhaps. But also indicative of why some in our generation of helicopter parents might be willing to let their kids drink. They know the risks and they want to be able to control some of the factors – or at least the severity of the outcome.
OK. But couldn’t we just encourage our kids not to get drunk? Not to the point where they are barfing. Or having sex with people they don’t know or don’t really like. Or needing somebody else to take them home. Why is that such an important rite of passage in our culture?
I remember a friend from high school who got so drunk she didn’t even know if she slept with the guy who woke up in her bed. It would have been her first time having sex and she wasn’t even sure – had she lost her virginity or not?
I still think that’s one of the saddest, most pitiful coming of age stories I’ve ever heard.
I should point out that, with a few exceptions in my life, I’m not that big of a party-er. My tolerance has always been lower than everybody else’s in the room. My favorite semester in college was the one I spent in France, where being drunk in public is very déclassé and a waste of good wine.
I also have seen parents who are only too happy to drink with their kids as well as parents who let their kids drink so their children will be cool.
Doug Gansler seems to fall in this category – especially after he told the Baltimore Sun that how parents handle under-aged drinking “has to do with whether you have a boy or a girl.”
Oh, sweet fraternity party, I’m not sure the boys will be boys mentality is the one to choose here.
Gansler’s son was at Beach Week to celebrate his graduation from Landon School in Bethesda — it’s probably time for Landon’s administration to work on getting some sober pictures of their students out into the world — Landon is the high school alma mater of George Huguely, the University of Virginia lacrosse player who got drunk and killed his girlfriend, Yeardley Love.
See, that’s the problem with coming out too strongly in favor of partying. We all know someone whose life has been damaged by it.
Call me uncool. Call me a killjoy. I just think it’s OK to encourage our kids to grow up and be moderates.