Re: Oh, You Pretty Things

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Mine's fifteen. She said to me the other days, thoughtfully, "You know, when I get my license next year, I can drive to Fayetteville (a sixty about fifty miles away) anytime I want."

I cannot describe to you the terror that went through me.

I mean, I trust her completely. She's smart and she's careful and all of that. But my baby piloting a vehicle up mountain roads? Being by herself in a city fifty miles away?

This is the first time I've ever felt like that -- like your archetypal parent, I guess I mean.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:46 AM
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Argh. For sixty s/b city. It's early here.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:47 AM
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"You know, when I get my license next year, I can drive to Fayetteville (a sixty about fifty miles away) anytime I want."

Only if you give her the keys. Doesn't she also need to pass a test or something?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:52 AM
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The test isn't that hard. Or wasn't the last time I took it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:55 AM
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I mean, I failed it the first time I took it but you can just keep taking it until you pass.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:56 AM
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5. But the theory is that by the time you pass you can drive well enough to convince an expert that you should be allowed to.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:04 AM
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He means a test to enter Fayetteville.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:05 AM
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Theory, yes. But as has been discussed extensively before, US driving tests are not exactly as thorough as the UK ones.

I mean, I've been driving for 13 years without accident or ticket (and racked up major mileage in many different driving situations) and I have a non-trivial fear of failing the British exam.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:07 AM
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The F Levels. American teenagers are preoccupied with studying for them for several years.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:08 AM
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I went to Lollapalooza at age 14. I was with my brothers and some friends, but my brothers ditched us pretty quickly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:11 AM
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We didn't even have an Lollapalooza when I was 14.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:12 AM
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6: The road test was maybe five minutes drive around town. It wasn't nothing (that's what I managed to fail once), but it didn't involve anything complex. Parallel parking, for example, wasn't required. Things like freeway driving couldn't have been required as there were none near by.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:15 AM
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We had to loll at ersatz paloozas if we wanted to be hot, sticky and temporarily overcome by the fumes from clove cigarettes.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:16 AM
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My daughter is five, and I think (without a hint of bias) that she's smart and responsible and has good judgment for her age, and yet I read something like the linked article and I look about nine or ten years out and shudder.

I don't really think she's going to get herself arrested or anything. (I suppose very few people -- or at least very few people from a privileged background -- ever think that when a kid is five.) But I do suspect a long and intense period of big fights over little choices, primarily between her and her mother.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:20 AM
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Being by herself in a city fifty miles away?

I was boarding in a city 50 miles away at 13 and travelling into London on my own at, I don't know, 10? It's not that big a deal. Then again, I wasn't behind the wheel of a car.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:22 AM
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My famously permissive parents never had the opportunity to forbid me from going to a music festival or on an overnight trip with friends -- I guess they could have tried to stop me from going to this one anarchist gathering when I was 17, but since it was at my dad's alma mater, they drove me down there instead and made a bit of a holiday out of the trip. I think I might have been 17 the first time I went to Cedarfest, but that was only two short city bus rides away from home, within walking distance, really, and obviously somewhat of a different prospect than going to a similar event in New York City. I dunno. I mean, I knew a lot of other kids, some of them young women, who got to do about as much on their own as I did. I think the worst things I ever heard about were one or two date rapes/very unpleasant sexual experiences (which could have happened anywhere, at anytime, after all), and people occasionally having a bad acid trip or come down due to tabs adulterated with strychnine or whatever. And most people bought their acid at school, so stricter curfews wouldn't have helped much there.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:23 AM
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And most people bought their acid at school

Our athletic boosters just sold t-shirts and jackets.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:25 AM
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Also, and perhaps I am such an outlier that this is irrelevant, but I hung out with probably the most drug-addled crowd at my very large, urban HS, and smoked up maybe twice in HS, and had like, 3 beers, maximum. Part of that was just lack of interest, and part was being the child of an alcoholic, but it would seem to give a lie to all that business about "peer pressure" and what not. Different for girls, maybe, but still.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:29 AM
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The kids of my friends here mostly seem to be on pretty long leashes. One of them did get mugged, walking through the neighborhood we both live in late at night last fall. Scary, especially since there was allegedly a gun involved, but also the kind of thing it's hard to protect kids from unless you're going to go all out and swaddle them in cotton wool until they go off to college.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:31 AM
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I take outsized comfort in having been a huge fuck-up as a teenager and having turned out reasonably okay. From that too-small-by-lots data set, I extrapolate that those years can, in some instances and given some good fortune or good decisions further down the line, be much less important than many parents assume. Heck, I didn't even go to an Ivy or the equivalent. My colleagues find this fact, and my related (relative) complacency about where my kids go to college, hard to fathom. Still, our older boy is perched on the cusp of adolescence, and I sometimes share your sense of anxiety, LB.

Or that anxiety could have less to do with flying delicate kites than with, as you note elsewhere in the post, the realities of possibilities foreclosed by age and life choices -- mostly good choices and mostly not especially appealing alternative possibilities*, but foreclosed nevertheless.

* Do I really want to be a firefighter, giving that I might have to fight fires? Probably not.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:32 AM
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My mom sent me off on a train trip thousands of miles from home when I was 13. She's said that in retrospect she didn't know what she was thinking, but felt quite secure at the time with the decision. I think a lot of it has to do with the kid/teen in question. Apparently I seemed quite self-sufficient, whereas with my sister, who was the baby of the family, my mother wouldn't have dreamed of sending her quite that far away alone until older.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:32 AM
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Our athletic boosters just sold t-shirts and jackets

Ours sold sausages at the football games and ran a silent auction.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:33 AM
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but it would seem to give a lie to all that business about "peer pressure" and what not

I personally never felt much in the way of peer pressure, either, but it doesn't come from other kids explicitly that often. More often, a kid who feels shitty about themselves is willing to grasp at straws and and live more recklessly than they would without a peer group who enjoys such things.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:33 AM
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22: Was the silent auction for acid?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:34 AM
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Agree with GY on this. Wandering around a city at 16, or 14, should be unremarkable. Piloting half a ton of metal over difficult roads not so much. Which is why I made the point that ultimately delagar has the key.

When I was 16 I spent a weekend at a rock festival with the full blessing of the authorities at the boarding school I attended, who even arranged for me and my mate to borrow a tent and sleeping bags*.

At 14, probably not so much, but if it had been in the same town and I'd come back at night they'd probably have been ool with it.

*My borrowed sleeping bag was stolen, which meant that I was extremely cold and tired and had to face a number of difficult interviews on my return. Fuck it, that's how you learn to deal with shit.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:34 AM
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24: More like "coupon for dinner at $localrestaurant"


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:37 AM
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And the fact that the coupons were really small and covered with a grid of tiny pictures of Daffy Duck didn't raise any suspicions?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:40 AM
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I suspect there's a broad difference between first born and last born experiences. The article goes into how traumatic the first born is for parents. It doesn't explicitly say that it gets easier, but I bet it does.

My mom has mentioned that my parents had explosive fights behind-the-scenes, however, as to whether or not I should be given the same freedoms as my brothers. My dad argued no, because I can get raped (essentially), and my mom argued yes, and ultimately won. But I have sympathy for both of their positions. Even though thank god my mom won.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:41 AM
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Rowan just asked if he could move in with us. I've sort of punted to Lee and the caseworker to decide, but it would be okay with me and would maybe put other annoyances in perspective. I'm only on the second page of the article and sort of mad at the writing of it so far (Ooh, YOU aren't the kind of people who have your kids get arrested? Lucky you!) but thinking.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:41 AM
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My parents were afraid I'd be either driving drunk or riding in a car driven by somebody who was drunk. This was an entirely justified fear.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:42 AM
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I'm completely unworried by wandering around the city on their own -- that feels safer to me than the alternative (I dunno, whatever kids other places are doing at this age), in that if you get into a scary situation, there's someone to help you in the nearest bodega. The festival seems scarier, in that it's a bottled-up group of excited and probably drunk young people.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:43 AM
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More often, a kid who feels shitty about themselves is willing to grasp at straws and and live more recklessly than they would without a peer group who enjoys such things.

More "peer pull" than "peer pressure".


Posted by: Crpytic ned | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:48 AM
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My friend who grew up in the deep suburbs (and is 7 years older than me) said in his youth kids just drove to a parking lot and drank, and then drove home. Hard to imagine any kind of outdoor concert with more prospects for things to go wrong than in that scenario.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:50 AM
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I lean toward overprotectiveness, and I am in terror of my children learning to drive. I am a very good driver - got my license 36 years ago and have never caused an insurance-level accident - but I was driving for two or three years before I was fit to be on the road.

When I finished driver's ed, my instructor took me aside and told me that he was really, genuinely confident that if I kept working at it, someday I'd be able to drive. Happily, my kids both seem more generally competent than I was at their age.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:50 AM
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I think the festival is okay, because it's hard to be put in an isolated situation. The worst potential things happen when you get isolated.

Is the concert free? If not, then there will be a well-guarded perimeter and intense policing of underage drinking. Jammies and I have discussed this, at ACL - once it gets dark, you see tons of 13-17 year olds by themselves in the food court area, because they're basically exhausted and most are probably sober, and they're just hanging out and eating at that point. It seems very safe.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:51 AM
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When I finished driver's ed, my instructor took me aside and told me that he was really, genuinely confident that if I kept working at it, someday I'd be able to drive.

This is hilarious.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:52 AM
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but also the kind of thing it's hard to protect kids from unless you're going to go all out and swaddle them in cotton wool until they go off to college.

I suppose I really am going to have to unwrap them once they get into college.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:53 AM
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Unless you want them to hang with the furries.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:55 AM
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She wants to go again this year, and I'm thinking probably yes

Great! Thanks, Mom!


Posted by: Sally | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:00 AM
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My daughter is five, and I think (without a hint of bias) that she's smart and responsible and has good judgment for her age so yes, sure, of course I let her drive.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:08 AM
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40: Well, there is the problem of her being unable to reach the pedals.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:13 AM
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28.1: That's what I find weird about my mother's general lack of over-protectiveness when it comes to me. I was first!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:21 AM
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I am in favor of Sally attending the concert. The responsible parenting choice is to let your kids get jaded with young adventure so that by the time they reach college they are incapable of exuberance.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:25 AM
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41: Stilts?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:26 AM
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The wildest kids I knew in my youth got into hard drugs at ... 15 I guess? That was in LA but in college friend had been a club kid in NYC from age 14 and was kicking heroin during freshman orientation (yet had gotten into a pretty selective college). So don't worry at all.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:37 AM
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I swear to fucking God that there is literally no problem in the world that you assholes wouldn't assign to "cars" as a cause. It's like the great Satan of Unfogged.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:38 AM
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So many of the kids I went to school with died in car accidents before they hit their 21st birthday.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:41 AM
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46 to... 15?


Posted by: Crpytpci ned | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:43 AM
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I'm definitely sympathetic to the feeling of flying a fragile kite. Not so much to the handwringing tone of the OP. 23 seems about right too-- Not sure what the best way forward is for kids that don't feel good about themselves.

My 12-year old is unrecognizably different from me at his age-- I was stoned, he has the top 10 colleges he wants to get into on the fridge, is kind of high-strung about tests.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:45 AM
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Here's to cars, the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.


Posted by: HomerSimp | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:45 AM
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46. Seems to me that unfogged is equally opposed to giving guns to unsupervised teens. Guns and cars alike are extremely dangerous in the hands on inexperienced people with poor judgment.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:45 AM
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I think I had unsupervised access to guns at the same age as I was driving by myself. We used to shoot the empties.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:48 AM
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No teens yet (Iris about to be 10), but I have a sense of where things are going. First of all, I know that I'll be the one advocating for a longer leash (relative to AB, that is). I also know that my approach will be, because it has been, to be very strict in terms of expected behavior* but quite liberal with limits.

In theory this should work - you know how you're supposed to behave, now go off and do things unsupervised - but who knows? In practice, I think AB is doing more of the work of getting Iris socially ready for the wider world, while I'm more focused on being physically ready (going to stores solo, biking city streets, being unintimidated by big crowds). I'll let you know in 10 or so years.

*although probably loose enough with punishment that I'd have been better off with slightly looser expectations paired with more consistent punishment, but that horse is well out of the barn


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:50 AM
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By that I mean empty cans. It wasn't like there was a gang called The Empties that listened to The Smiths and found The Breakfast Club to be a deep movie.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:51 AM
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"It wasn't like there was a gang called The Empties that listened to The Smiths and found The Breakfast Club to be a deep movie."

If there had been it wouldn't have been a sign of poor judgment if you'd shot them. But I think the general sense of the blog is that guns and cars are for grown ups.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:54 AM
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46: Well car accidents account for more than 1/3 of teen deaths.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 8:57 AM
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I think I read too much Jezebel because I would fall into the category of Heebie's mom and decide that the unsupervised activities are a way to get raped. I did so many stupid stupid things at 15 and nothing every came out of it, but apparently men weren't lurking in every corner trying to rape me in a society where it's my fault because of wearing short skirts.

In other news, I've started to feel the baby kick and it makes me so incredibly happy. It's like having a quiet friend with you all day. I'll probably change my mind in a few months when I can feel her foot wedged in my ribcage.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:01 AM
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decide that the unsupervised activities are a way to get raped.

I think the way to think about this is not that it's not a worry, but that obviously rowdy (I have no idea why my vocabulary gets Edwardian when I talk about this stuff) activities aren't actually all that much higher risk than non-obviously rowdy things. If you're not literally being controlling enough that the kid is in a large group in a supervised public place at all times (and you're probably not going to be quite that controlling, and I really don't think you should be), half-measures don't do that much to decrease the risk of sexual violence.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:07 AM
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Hooray kickimg.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:09 AM
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-m, + n.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:10 AM
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because I would fall into the category of Heebie's mom and decide that the unsupervised activities are a way to get raped.

Technically this was my dad's position.

More importantly, hooray for the quickening! I think it's marvelous.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:12 AM
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I was one of those super-responsible kids who didn't drink or smoke pot in high school, didn't need a curfew, never skipped school, drove mostly responsibly, and expressed my rebellion against authority in such daring ways as publishing an underground newspaper. (This was before the intertubz, so we had to actually pass out paper copies at school: talk about flirting with danger!)

I was also hopelessly naive and unsure enough of myself. I never ran into real trouble, but I'm not sure how well I would have handled it.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:31 AM
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I'm not reading 7 pages of it. I'm pretty sure that I'm not going mad, and I've got 3 teenagers. (I will have four, but the eldest will be an adult by then, so I'm not sure it counts.)

I'm finding them growing up and making plans really exciting. And C and I talk lots about what we will do when it's just two two of us. Kid D asked me the other day what day in my life I was most looking forward to. I told her that it was the day the last one of them moved out permanently, and she was a bit put out by that.

Kid B's the one going off to gigs and festivals here. She went to Reading Festival when she was 14, with a friend and C - but they came home every day! She went again each day last year with a friend, and she's planning to camp this year when she'll be 16 - it's a bit of a post-GCSE tradition/rite of passage. But whenever she goes anywhere she's really organised, has her transport planned out, contingency plans, etc. Can't fault her there.

Kid A turned 17 a couple of months ago, but isn't bothered about learning to drive. We talked about it, because young people's eventual insurance seems cheaper the earlier they learn. We can't afford to put a learner driver on our insurance, it's horrendous already. She cycles/walks/buses/occasionally arranges lift swaps because she knows I'll drive her once in a while if it seems reasonable, and her friends are mostly similar. And anyway, what's the point of driving anywhere? You can't drink when you get there!

One of the nicest things about having teenagers is that their friends are, like, proper people, and are generally lovely to have around. Much prefer them to small child friends.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:32 AM
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Ear worm! Luckily, I like that song.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:34 AM
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I had enormous fights over my curfew when I was in high school; I would go out and get home at one or two in the morning pretty much every weekend. Okay, yes, I spent that whole time in my friend's basemement playing role-playing games and drinking soda, but who knows what could have happened? My mom was probably worried about orcs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:34 AM
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I think I read too much Jezebel because I would fall into the category of Heebie's mom and decide that the unsupervised activities are a way to get raped. I did so many stupid stupid things at 15 and nothing every came out of it, but apparently men weren't lurking in every corner trying to rape me in a society where it's my fault because of wearing short skirts.

Right, Jezebel teaches that there are rapists everywhere, but they are your friends, not strangers, and there is nothing you can do to prevent it.


Posted by: Crpytpci ned | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:34 AM
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Asilon, are things with C any better? Planning with him about the kids moving out seems more upbeat.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:35 AM
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62 I was one of those super-responsible kids who didn't drink or smoke pot in high school, didn't need a curfew, never skipped school, drove mostly responsibly, and seethed with suppressed resentment at my parents for their overprotectiveness in a way that they probably didn't notice.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:40 AM
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My parents let me run pretty unsupervised, and I was personally kind of dull and cautious, so this didn't turn into much trouble, although I was certainly getting drunk at parties and going to bars underage in a way that I in retrospect think of as a bad idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:44 AM
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I had a fairly rough patch with my parents at ages 11-13, which had nothing to do with having my freedom curtailed or not, and everything to do with the popularity structure at middle school, and my failure there, and my parents' mild, transparent disappointment with me, socially-speaking.

High school itself, we got along great. I was the only kid at home, they were easy-going and mellow, we enjoyed each other's company but I was also allowed to basically do what I wanted.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:45 AM
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I had a kind of rocky relationship with mine generally, but conflicts were around tidiness and school, rather than whether I could go out at night.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:51 AM
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||We may see a Wry Cooter in these parts soon:

http://crookedtimber.org/2014/01/14/redditor-convinced-women-have-it-easy-on-okcupid-poses-as-woman-lasts-two-hours/comment-page-3/#comment-504846

|>


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:56 AM
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I never ran into real trouble, but I'm not sure how well I would have handled it.

This stays true into adulthood, doesn't it? You only ever know how you'll handle real trouble after you've run into it. This is not to say it's a great idea to throw your kid into real trouble. But I guess it means you have to give up some control, as if not your kid is going to get pissy and probably find some access to real trouble at some point.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:58 AM
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My recreational activities in high school were pretty similar to 65, except that my parents were pretty much OK with the orcs.

(Later on when I started getting into serious relationships was a different story. I'm pretty sure my mother would actually have preferred it if I had been dating orcs.)


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:05 AM
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74: there's a special kind of dating orc. D-orcs, or dorks.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:08 AM
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I told her that it was the day the last one of them moved out permanently, and she was a bit put out by that.

I got along horribly with my parents when I was a teenager, and moved out as soon as I turned 18.

At the time, my father said to me: I understand that you're unhappy with your mother and me, but I want you to understand that it's been no picnic for us, either. We're not sorry to see you go.

I have a hard time conveying to people that, at the time and ever since, I viewed this as a heartwarming moment between me and my father. He was commiserating with me about a difficult situation. I understood completely, and was genuinely pleased that I was being asked to sympathize.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:08 AM
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I was also hopelessly naive and unsure enough of myself. I never ran into real trouble, but I'm not sure how well I would have handled it.

That describes me as well.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:09 AM
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the day the last one of them moved out permanently

Mine really are delightful, but I'm also looking dreamily forward to having them out on their own. It's just the work of accommodating two other people in the household, scheduling around their stuff, and so an, as well as the kite-flying worry. Once the string's cut, it's not that there's nothing bad that can happen, but my influence over it then is so limited that I can relax.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:15 AM
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57: I have very fond memories of going swimming while pregnant, and feeling the Calabat kick. It was like we were swimming together!

My parents were ridiculously strict. E.g., I was permitted to be on the telephone for three minutes. If a friend called to ask about a homework assignment, and I made a joke, I would be asked later why I was joking, because obviously the phone call was really a social call, if I was making jokes.

My dad meant well, I think, but I don't recommend this as a way to nurture a relationship with your daughter.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:16 AM
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I don't think "strict" is the right word for 79.2.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:20 AM
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Yeah, wow.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:24 AM
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Even local phone calls were billed by the minute not so very long ago.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:25 AM
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It was nice having the boy back home for 2 months, but no one is sad that he's back in college.

I had high school classmates who lived under restrictions like 79.3, and who left home not looking back as soon as they could. A good lesson, and while my wife thinks I've leaned way way too far to the permissive side, I don't really have any regrets on that score.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:29 AM
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79: It was a bit of a shock when I got to college and realized that a) I wasn't actually a bad kid and b) I could have been having fun and friends and still gone to college.

I don't really have any complaints, but I really have no idea what I'll do when the Calabat is a teenager. Anti-anxiety meds for me, and let shiv set the rules?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:47 AM
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There's so much to happen before this becomes an issue, but I have no idea how it's going to work with the kid, because my experience growing up is so unlike where we are now (and hope to continue to be). I was a teenager in a rural area (quarter mile to the next house, a few miles into town) and was isolated from my within-a-15-mile-radius peers due to my choice of schools, so I pretty much never hung out with other teenagers outside of the school day or occasional after-school activity (drama club, say). Geography meant that no curfew was even necessary.

In contrast, the kid will have access to the transit system of a major metro area.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:59 AM
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Huh -- you're worried that you'll be too strict? With stories like 79, I'd think the worry would be that you'd overreact in the opposite direction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 10:59 AM
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67 - yeah, loads better, and I have no idea why or how. It felt like he just woke up one day and decided to be happy again.

I must make it clear that it's not that I don't like having my children here! I'm just looking forward to freedom.

I think that having a fairly tough time with kid B for many years had helped to be honest - I relinquished a lot of responsibility for her anxieties, had to give up that sense that I could make my children be happy (as it says in the article) or any other quality, just by being the perfect parent. So perhaps I'm a bit more relaxed now about the idea that it's their future, and they have to get on with it.

Kid A will be applying to university this autumn. She reckons she's going to apply to Oxford to do Classics. I do find that scary, the idea that my baby might be rejected.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:06 AM
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86: More worried that I have no idea at all intuitively of what would have been normal boundaries for a kid that didn't really push on boundaries. So it's not a matter of saying "mostly like my parents did, but with some changes." It's more like saying "I hear that teenagers sometimes are permitted to go to the mall with their friends. As it turns out, they don't instantly become drug fiends who get pregnant. On your planet, at what age are they allowed to visit the mall?"

shiv's childhood was very permissive, and he thinks it was too permissive, but I trust his sense of what teenagers do more than mine.



Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:27 AM
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Ah, that makes sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:32 AM
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I trust his sense of what teenagers do more than mine.

Bah! Figure it out from first principles!


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:43 AM
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87: My parent seemed to really, really enjoy the years between when my sister moved out and my mother got sick. I spent quite a bit of time as a teenager wondering why they'd married (high school sweethearts, together ten years before first child) since they didn't seem to have much in common. After it was just the two of them, they seemed to have so much fun together and enjoy each other's company so much more than I'd ever seen. I hope that is your experience, too.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:46 AM
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Semi-on-topic - my SIL is apparently frying her synapses because we sent them the kids' school photos, and Hokey Pokey is wearing a skirt in his photo. Apparently her big concern is "how do I explain this to my kids?!?" which is so completely nonsensical for something so completely self-explanatory. "It's okay if he's gay," I'm told, "but how on earth are we supposed to explain this?" I'm reminded of this Calvin and Hobbes strip. Is this some sort of trick question, or what?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:52 AM
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How about, "Hokey Pokey is wearing a skirt"?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:55 AM
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How about, "It's quicker for when he has to drop the kids off at the pool"?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 11:57 AM
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"We're not sure how it happened, but Hokey Pokey turns out to be Scottish"


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:00 PM
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Put him in a fireman's costume and see if you get, "It's okay if he wants to become a municipal employee, but how on earth are we supposed to explain this."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:02 PM
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31: The festival seems scarier, in that it's a bottled-up group of excited and probably drunk young people.

35: I think the festival is okay, because it's hard to be put in an isolated situation.

All-day music festivals are probably different these days than they once were, with entrance fee, security, and official sanction in general, so maybe it's okay, yes. Depends on the kind of festival, really.

My first impulse, to be honest, was that 14 is too young for that, but that's because I'm remembering festivals on mountaintops, or away, pretty far away, on extensive grounds with a really mixed crowd, with a lot of drugs and general wandering around.

I will say: make it absolutely clear to Sally, and a safe proposition for her, that if she gets in any trouble at all, any at all, she can and should call home for a rescue. And you will come get her. No blame or recriminations. That's really important.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:03 PM
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...if she gets in any trouble at all, any at all, she can and should call home for a rescue. And you will come get her. No blame or recriminations.

"Mom, you promised a rescue and no recriminations so a little less of the 'where did you get that bag of money?' and a little more driving home."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:09 PM
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92:I don't really know what to advise other than the simple answer--in my experience anything beyond simple acknowledgment of their discomfort is deprecated. My one son had a period of skirts and dresses. I recall one day when an old colleague/friend had unexpectedly shown up at work and I called my wife to see if it was possible for us all to meet at a restaurant. My wife said, "Sure, but just to let you know, Xyzzy is in a dress." In the event the past colleague and another guy* I invited were two of the most unconventional people I have ever met in my life so I felt no qualms whatsoever.

*Who actually was a member of some Scottish performance society in which he wore a quilt.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:20 PM
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Just get her executive tickets to the Acura/Bud Light Lime VIP Tent and Sally can hang out with responsible 53 year old marketing executives and corporate incentive contest winners.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:21 PM
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*Who actually was a member of some Scottish performance society in which he wore a quilt.

Clan Batting was much feared in the Highlands.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:23 PM
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My older daughter is a driver and it hasn't been too stressful, at least for me. I'm definitely the more permissive parent in our household. Our kids are fairly easy going. Younger one's a bit higher strung but nothing unbearable.

I'm only 4 years away from both kids being in college although there's a pretty good chance they'll still be living here and going to flagship state U up the road to avoid debt. Really though, I can't complain. Their bedrooms are in the basement and they'll likely be gone a lot doing school and their own things and just mooching food and utilities.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:26 PM
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101: Nicely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:32 PM
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I suspect there's a broad difference between first born and last born experiences.

My parents were pretty strict with me, and I always thought I'd advocate for my parents to loosen up with my much younger sister. This turned out to be unnecessary. Anyway, based on my boyfriend's Christmas activities, which included teaching said sister skateboard tricks in the middle of an icy street, if/when we have kids I expect to be the strict parent.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:34 PM
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103: I'm still kicking myself for not having gone with "The Black Swatch".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:35 PM
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92 is giving me conniptions.

Trying to take it seriously. Hokey-Pokey is wearing a skirt because he likes it. It has nothing to do with being gay or not gay. He doesn't necessarily like wearing whatever uniform is socially mandated. Skirts are really comfortable to wear.

That's if you want to try to answer seriously the SIL's question, How do I explain this to my kids?

Apparently SIL suffers from a certain deficit.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:47 PM
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Not your problem to explain to your sister in law how to explain things to her kids. I think you just have to send a message of "yes, I understand that you are judging us, but frankly I just don't give a shit" and move on. Of course the advantage of the interaction is that you now get to dismissively judge her.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:51 PM
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When we were first married my mother in law complained to my wife I always dressed our daughter like a boy. Apparently it had little impact though given how squealy they get over things like space kitten leggings and various Catbug items. They converted my wife, so these days I hear a lot of impromptu Catbug quotes around the house.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:52 PM
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I don't thinks SIL was asking for advice. I don't think she was communicating anything more than "your parenting decisions are a terrible burden on me".


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 12:54 PM
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101: I am coming to grips that it just all gets increasingly embarrassing and confusing from here on out. But I suspect I will always have my loosely-tethered rage and hostility to fall back on.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 1:00 PM
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More worried that I have no idea at all intuitively of what would have been normal boundaries for a kid that didn't really push on boundaries.

Yeah, this is me. My parents each grew up with an alcoholic parent, and I was raised far, far away from that kind of craziness. So yay, Mom and Dad.

But as we all know, they fuck you up, your mum and dad, and there's a long list of things that I don't intend to pass down to my own children. I wonder if my children are going to seem as alien to me as I did to my own parents.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 1:01 PM
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"Let me explain it to your kids. You go drink."


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 1:06 PM
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OT: Where is Charley? For Brian Schweitzer is getting on my nerves. What are the chances that he'll be shut down forthwith?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 1:21 PM
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113 -- Zero!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 1:46 PM
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Less Than Zero/The Zero Effect


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 1:48 PM
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Wrong thread.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 1:48 PM
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The Wrong Man/The Wrong Box


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 1:53 PM
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114: Zero chance that he'll be shut down, shut up? That had not been my hope or understanding.

Well, in that case I guess some people will have take issue, make protesting sounds, and so on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 1:54 PM
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In retrospect, I think the biggest challenge for my parents was that they were rather eccentric and extremely introverted, and so had no idea at all what the norms were for young people. (They also paid no attention to fashion, never watched television and did not consume contemporary novels or movies or spend much time around regular people.) A recurring problem/fight/really horrible thing would be when I would do something absolutely ordinary (wearing a purple shirt and a black skirt! wearing knee-length shorts over tights!) and would come home after school to yelling and ructions because of how disrespectfully I was dressed, since my parents quite honestly thought that the only reason a young girl would wear dark colors together was if she were some kind of beatnik witch who hated her parents. A lot of very ordinary stuff was forbidden, too, out of some misapprehensions of norms. I was a fairly timid and mostly friendless kid, and this did not help. I stress that none of the forbidden things were even marginally controversial - lock-ins with the church group, optional school trips into the city, etc. All things that, certainly, would have been Not The Done Thing when my parents were in junior high, but none of which were remotely non-standard in the late eighties.

My point being that it's helpful for parents to have a broad sense of what their children's peers are allowed/able to do


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 1:54 PM
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And, really, parsi, you should embrace BS. Is he wrong about healthcare? Or inequality?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 1:57 PM
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Culture war.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:02 PM
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118.1 -- Neither shut up nor shut down. He's not going to appear on your ballot, of course. But he's going to have a successful media career for a while now.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:07 PM
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embrace BS

As a campaign slogan, it could use a little work.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:08 PM
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120: He's sure as hell fucked up about this:

"People say to me: 'Brian, you lived in the Middle East, you understand the Middle East,'" he told msnbc. "It's confusing to most people, you know? The uniforms that they wear, some have got towels some don't, some hang down, some are white, some are Shia, Sunni, Wahhabi, what are all these things, how are the Kuwaitis related to the Saudis, blah blah blah."
He added, "Look, let me get this clear before you say that you understand: Good guys and bad guys in the Middle East? There are no good guys. It's bad guys and allies."

Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:20 PM
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||
On an ascending scale of one to ten, how evil was it to rat out my neighbor to the police for driving up onto the [strip between sidewalk and street] in front of my house, knocking over the dead birch tree -- part of which fell across the sidewalk, part of which remained hanging on overhead wires -- and driving away without leaving a note? I don't know them, but they seem like nice people, probably not very well off, probably not native English speakers. I'm sure it was an accident, pretty sure it was just bad maneuvering. The cops here also seem nice, as cops go. I had to call someone ASAP to get help moving the fallen tree and removing it from the wires. Was I a total asshole to take down the license number? How much trouble can these people get into?

I'm putting myself around 6 or 7. I rent, but I should have followed up with the arborist about removing the dead tree this summer, and I should know my neighbors better. I could also have called the fire department about the wire situation directly, instead of the police.
|>


Posted by: Abigail Adams | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:20 PM
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And yes, he's wrong about health care insurance if he thinks the status quo ante was preferable to the ACA.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:21 PM
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I'm sure he has a healthy media career ahead of him, though.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:23 PM
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125: We need to know the diameter of the tree, how long it has been dead, and if the wires are electrical (as opposed to cable or phone).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:24 PM
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125: Honestly, doesn't seem evil to me at all. Causing significant damage with a car, even accidentally, you're responsible for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:27 PM
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125 -- if the City owns/controls the land in that strip (which is the case here) they might be fined by the City for the cost of the tree. Otherwise my guess is that nothing happens at all unless you or your landlord want them to compensate you and one of you presses the issue.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:28 PM
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126 -- Is that what he said?

Schweitzer was concerned the emerging legislation would rely too heavily on expanding Medicaid, which he complained could prove too costly for states and give conservative governors room to undermine coverage. He wanted a strong public option, which Obama favored but the Senate would soon jettison to appease wavering Democrats. Schweitzer had campaigned on importing cheaper drugs from Canada (he personally bused seniors across the border to buy medicine) and wanted the government to negotiate lower prices, two policies that the White House rejected to secure alternative savings and pharmaceutical industry support.

His request for permission to sell drugs at Medicaid prices in Montana was rejected. He tried to get a waiver to turn Medicaid into a single payer system, modeled on Saskatchewan's, for all Montanans. That idea was rejected, too.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:33 PM
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And to 124, yes it's not very articulate, but what organized group, exactly, do you consider "the good guys" in the middle east?

He's talking about the American delusion that the enemy of some enemy of our is not only our friend, but something more. Like when Reagan compared the Afghan mujahideen to the Lexington minutemen.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:38 PM
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128: I'm sure you're kidding, but the tree had several skinny branching trunks, I think it had been dead for years, and while I stupidly thought the wires were electrical they were just phone/cable. The electrical wires are the next level up. The impact yanked the root ball out of the ground. I could probably have moved the trunk on the ground off the sidewalk, although it was 20 feet long and there wasn't really anywhere to put it, but I was wary of the hanging-wired half. Really didn't want to guess wrong about whether they were high voltage or not. The fire crew was amused by the whole thing, though.

My first thought was: well, I can finally cross "follow up with arborist" off the list. It is indeed city property.


Posted by: AbAd | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 2:53 PM
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Both children are no longer children, in their early 20s. I feel the "diminishing experience" thing that LB mentions in the OP in another way - the kids manifiestly were getting stronger and more capable (albeit with the opportunity to display some truly bad judgment) just as I was first starting to feel the effects of age. Humbling, to say the least.

For me (and ms bill probably has very different thoughts), the most challenging times with my daughter were her late teens - her first couple years of college, even though (because?) she was away from home. I felt like most calls or texts home had some bad news or posed a problem. I loved that she was communicating and cringed at much of what she communicated. I tried just to listen and be supportive without judging or opining unless necessary, and that was tough - both figuring out how to react and exercising the necessary self-control.

My son was more subtle (as he always has been). Especially later in high school, he would do his own thing without "bothering" us, so much so that we didn't have a clue sometimes what he was up to until it went south. I resorted to going out to lunch with him on Saturdays (Chipotle! IHOP!) just to find a space and time where we could sit around and talk. It kind of worked.

We went to counseling with each of them for about a year or so in their early teens and a few times later on. That was hard but on balance worth the time and trouble for us.

Each of the kids also played a couple of sports during high school (their choice - ms bill and I are not jocks). True to form, my daughter played individual sports and my son was all about the teams. We went to most of their games or meets or whatever. Aside from the fact that the kids wanted to play, the good things about those activities were that they used up the kids' excess energy, made it easy for us meet other parents, and added some structure to the kids' days. Of course, sometimes those were the bad things too.

A friend was talking about Teddy Roosevelt and "The Strenuous Life" the other day and the first thing I thought about was raising teenagers. But there's an analogy ban...


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 3:16 PM
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I'm sure it was an accident, pretty sure it was just bad maneuvering.

Often it's DUI, hence the getting out of dodge after running over a tree.

How much trouble can these people get into?

On the criminal side, not much. Here leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor, which means a ticket and a fine. If people do something stupid like refuse to call us or come to the door after we find the car then we impound it. Wanting to get their car back usually convinces them to get a little more cooperative.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 4:49 PM
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133: It's certainly rude to damage a neighbor's property, on purpose or not, so I doubt you'd be damaging a relationship of any value by calling the police next time. I'm not sure how enthusiastic the particular officers will be about it though, Abigail. It's not quite the same as hitting a bicyclist at night and then throwing money at him because you're drunk.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:08 PM
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what happens now and for the next five or ten years is incredibly powerfully determinative of the entire remainder of their lives.

If real problems showed up, I could work at being helpful, but there's no guarantee I'd be able to fix anything,

Yup, that was pretty much my experience as a teenager. I was thinking about this recently, because I was at a conference at the university where I was an undergrad, and while I've been back there before, this time it hit me a lot harder. I remember hating the place when I was in college; elite private universities in small towns on the East Coast are just totally the wrong environment for me. This should have been obvious at the time, but neither I, nor my parents, nor any of our friends, seemed to realize it. I didn't know that the reason I hated the place was that it was loathsome; I thought it was because I hadn't learned how to play by their rules. Now, looking back, that whole experience seems like such a long time ago -- and yet going back there, I can't deny that it had an effect on me. The professors and students, the small town, and the atmosphere of privilege, wealth and ambition, all feel familiar and natural to me, in a way that I don't want them to be.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 5:09 PM
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61: Right, dad, sorry.

108: At our first trip shopping for baby clothes I was delighted to learn that my husband is going to be more crazy about enforcing gender neutral clothing than me. We went to a store where all the girl stuff was pink and glittery and he was appalled.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 6:05 PM
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I don't thinks SIL was asking for advice. I don't think she was communicating anything more than "your parenting decisions are a terrible burden on me".

This is exactly the case. Also it wasn't transmitted directly to me; we do the indirect grapevine thing in my family.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 7:59 PM
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Well, if her kids see Pokey being treated like an individual and not forced into social convention, it might give them the wrong sorts of ideas.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 01-15-14 9:45 PM
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"We're not sure how it happened, but Hokey Pokey turns out to be Scottish"

a) Real Hokey Pokey stolen at birth by Scots; left one of their own children in his place

b) Zapped in pram by tennis-playing aliens http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVbb6pZLfzU

c) High levels of Scottishness in local water supply

d) Bitten by West Highland terrier; becomes Scottish at full moon


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 4:52 AM
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Heebie's SIL's parenting difficulties came to mind when this appeared in my feed elsewhere.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 5:37 AM
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The description of Alex last night on Modern Family as "like a self-cleaning oven" -- pretty much how I feel about Rory. (Disclosure: my actual self-cleaning oven is sort of burnt out and needs replacing. I don't feel *that* way about Rory.) I don't worry so much about things going wrong for her, but I do worry about dropping the ball and letting her down. Or misplacing the ball. Or getting distracted and forgetting I needed to take care of the ball.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 7:14 AM
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My actual self-cleaning oven has a broken self-cleaning feature. The oven is filthy because I'm not willing to clean a self-cleaning oven except in the case of dire necessity (e.g. can't cook without setting off smoke detector).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 7:46 AM
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139: Belated idea for a passive-aggressive response for h-g to drop in front of a link in the grapevine. ""im having trouble explaining to my kids why SIL's kids have such woefully constrained worldviews?"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 5:46 PM
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Way late, but:

Charley at 131: 126 -- Is that what he said?

I wanted a strong public option, too. It looked to me that it was impossible to secure legislatively, as Schweitzer appears to acknowledge. His policy preferences may be super cool, but I don't see how insisting upon those or .. nothing .. is sensible in any way.

So yes, I think he did say that the status quo ante is/was preferable to the ACA. He apparently feels that the ACA will collapse under its own weight. We'll see. I generally find the kind of rhetoric laid out in that article to be a set of cheap shots.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-16-14 6:47 PM
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