Independence Day (in this case not a film or a U.S. holiday)

Written by on July 15, 2021

I was at my local swimming pool recently when I struck up a conversation with a young mum and her two young boys who were beside me in the changing rooms.  Her boys were about 6 and 8 years old, full of energy and questions as young boys are, while their mum tried to hustle them into their swimming costumes and into the pool.  Having two older sons myself
of course, we had a little chat about our experiences of boys, and exchanged changing room anecdotes before we went our separate ways.
‘It will be so much easier when they can see to themselves,’ she said, smiling indulgently in the direction of her boys who were chasing each other around a bench while she folded clothes to place in their locker.  ‘It must be great having older boys who are independent.’


Suddenly I had a moment of Deja vu! I remembered saying something similar 19 years ago when I was holding a helpless newborn in my arms, watching a mum with a toddler who was just learning to dress himself.
‘It must be so much easier when they can do things for themselves,’ I said.
I repeated the answer I received then, to my new acquaintance now.
‘Each stage brings its own challenges no matter how old they are.’


In the light of recent events, I have had cause to reflect on these conversations over the last few days as my husband and I attempt to parent our 17 year old son responsibly.
As hoards of 17 year olds from my son’s school year pass their driving tests and are let loose on the roads without a chaperone (just as we did in our day), the issue of drink-driving has raised its ugly head.
Now, my youngest has a fabulous group of friends that he has virtually grown up with.  They are generally sensible and, in my entirely subjective opinion, make reasonably good decisions (within the realms of a teenager’s brain of course).  
They ‘have the occasional Bud’(1) as my son calls it when they get together; as I said, they are sensible lads, and one ‘Bud’ each is where they have always stopped. We’ve been okay with that, my husband and I…until driving threw in a curveball! As we all know, whether or not we are over the limit for driving after an alcoholic drink depends not so much on how much we drink, but on how our body processes it; for example, what you’re drinking, your physical build in weight, height, age and general health, your stress levels, and how much you’ve eaten etc. (2)  
I know that a bottle of ‘Bud’(3) is probably not going to be over the legal driving alcohol limit(4) for a 17 year old boy, but when one of my son’s (sensible) friends passed his driving test recently, drank his bottle of Bud and still thought it was okay to get in the driving seat and take my precious son in his passenger seat; I had only one word for dealing with
this.

HELP!


This is a VERY tricky one!  It involves peer pressure, being cool, what’s socially acceptable, what’s legal, cause and consequence, helicopter (or responsible?) parenting…and many, many other very adult issues!  
It sort of makes dressing, feeding themselves, riding a bike, wiping their own bum…putting on a swimsuit etc., pale into insignificance!
We are probably biased, my husband and I, so please forgive us if you think we are being over-zealous.  We have both, after all, been in the frontline of the emergency services; the fire service no less.  I have taken the most distressing of calls involving car crashes, and my husband has had to cut many people, including child and teenage passengers, out of
smashed and smoking vehicles, often in situations where alcohol is confirmed to have been involved.
The thought of my irreplaceable boy, my precious youngest son, being one of them is unbearable.
Fortunately, I was saved from having to make a decision and/or put my foot down, as this wonderful boy has his own ideas. ‘It’s okay mum, I’m not getting in his car because he’s had a drink.’ I nearly cried with relief.

References
*1. Budweiser – a can of lager/beer
*2. What is an alcohol unit? | Drinkaware
*3. How many units in a 330ml bottle of Budweiser? (getthedata.com)
*4. Drink driving and the legal alcohol limit | Drinkaware

Blog by: Jo Windsor

 

 

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