A news story today about naked teenagers reminded me of my youngest's 15th birthday party.
My youngest's fifteenth birthday party still makes me shudder when I think about it. This boy has never been one to toe the line. Anyway, he wanted to have a 'sleep over' party for his fifteenth. He had one for his fourteenth and it went off without a hitch and without the hint of alcohol. They were warned (read threatened) that parents would be called immediately if there was. They all slept in the garage and we didn't hear a thing. Unfortunately our neighbour, who's bedroom was right near the garage ... well she didn't get too much sleep ... thankfully she was okay about it.
The fifteenth, well that was a whole new ball game. This was the year that we found the bottle of scotch with black things floating around it it. Turns out the scotch was now tea. Mr 14 and his friend thought a bottle of scotch might be a nice afternoon tipple whilst at the skate park. At the time, before I knew about the scotch, Mr 14 told me he had sun stroke which was why he was throwing up at 4pm in the afternoon. The explanation for smelling like a brewery was that the older boys at the skate bowl threw goon on him. I knew he was lying but there was no point pursuing it at the time. In our house things always get found out one way or another. At some point the piper gets paid :) It all clicked when I found the scotch. He fessed up and has not lived this down.
Anyway, back to the party. I said he could have 5 boys over and NO alcohol. He agreed. They set up a little area around the side, I made finger food, one parent called to find out if there would be alcohol. I said NO, but I couldn't guarantee that they wouldn't smuggle any in. I would try my best, but if you know 15 year old boys, this is not easy. She was okay with this. Little did I know how easy it would be for them to smuggle it in.
They all seemed pretty good and I kept checking up on them every 30 minutes or so by taking out new food and clearing up mess. My older son had invited two older friends over who were keeping an eye on things. One of them was looking decidedly green and when I enquired as to how he was, he ran off to throw up. I was concerned I was poisoning them with my finger food. No, not quite. Billy, bless him, was drinking Jaeger Bombs and happily sharing them with the other boys. I didn't think to check up on Billy, he was almost 18 and well, there was my big parenting fail that night. Never, ever trust fellow teenagers who are almost 18 to supervise fifteen year old boys. Lock this tip away in your parenting toolbox!
Turns out I had a drunk group of boys on my hands. I smelt the bottles of soft drink on the table and they were all full of alcohol. I gathered them up and tipped them out. By now it was 11.30 pm and I gave them the option of me calling their mothers to pick them up or they all had to come in and go to bed so I knew they were all safe. I grilled them all and they weren't terribly drunk - not like Billy who was passed out upstairs on the bed. They all came in. Of course they did!
We had beds made up in the lounge room and I didn't go to bed until they were all in bed and looking like sleep wasn't far off.
I went to bed, exhausted. Wondering what I might tell their mothers, if anything. Only one mother seemed interested in no alcohol so perhaps I'd just tell her.
Next morning I get up and find 2 additional bodies sleeping downstairs. .
When Mr 15 is up and his friends have all gone home - no mothers picked them up so I felt no obligation to tell them of the night's events. If they called I would tell them.
I asked Mr 15 how the two additional boys got there. He said, "um mum you might not really want to know".
I reassured him I did want to know!
It seems they met the two interlopers down the end of the street. "And just when might you have been down the end of the street?" I asked.
"Well we thought it might be funny if we all went down to Hilder Road to do some naked running."
I am serious. This really happened.
"And, did you all do this?" I asked, not really wanting to know the answer.
"Um yes we all did".
So picture this. We have six 15 year old boys, running around one of the streets of our suburb at 12.30 am, NAKED Plus another two who thought it might be fun to join in.
There is a part of me that finds this hysterical and wished I had an insight into how their strange little minds worked. But the other part of me was horrified and panicked about what would have happened if one of them had been hit by a car. Drunk. Naked. And in my care!!!
He was lectured for days to come about how when his friends stayed here I was responsible for them.
Needless to say this was the last sleepover birthday party held at our place.
Teenagers and alcohol presents such a dilemma. I never, ever bought my boys alcohol when they were under age because I do think this is fundamentally wrong. I know their friends bought it for them and I knew from age 16 both my boys used to drink at parties. I took the path of accepting that they did drink. It doesn't mean I liked it or encouraged it. But I accepted it. This way, if they ever got into any trouble, they could call me without worry of me flipping out because they had been drinking. On a couple of occasions they did call me and I was glad.
Some mothers I know had no idea their children drank and had no idea when their son or daughter was passed out from too much alcohol, being cared for by friends. I did not want to be these mothers.
I could have conversations with my boys about drinking knowing they were sharing experiences that either they or their friends had been through. We could really dissect some dangerous situations and they learnt a lot through this. They still did some really dumb things and there were some times I didn't think they'd ever make it to 18 - but they both have.
I'm absolutely certain the dumb things aren't behind us yet, but I do know that all the way through, I've always known exactly who my kids are and they've always known they can come to me when they are in trouble. I just wasn't expecting it to be so often!