Proper and effective parenting is sometimes just about ‘winging it‘ and hoping for the best…

Remember when your babies started tentatively trying to walk on their own, and you let them toddle 2 or 3 steps from one parent into the outstretched and waiting arms of the other parent? (Or at the very least, another caring family member.) Gradually, you lengthened the distance your little one had to travel until they were walking independently.

We accomplished the driving version of that this weekend. With our baby. We lengthened the distance between us and the outstretched, loving arms of waiting responsible family members, but only because we sort’ve had to…

The story: We were in possession of 2 highly coveted tickets to Saturday’s football game in College Town, USA,  about 45 minutes down the highway.  A last minute family emergency changed the plan from a Father/Son excursion to our son inviting a friend to accompany him to the game. Transportation immediately became the major issue. We mentally ran through a short list of unsuitable options, when dad suggested we simply let the 16 year old boys drive themselves.

Drive themselves???

I wasn’t one bit in love with that plan. I couldn’t care less about football and failed to realize the overall import and significance of this particular game. But, apparently this game was


While I may not give a rat’s arse about pigskin, college rankings and conference pride, I do have a soft spot for my boy, plus I understood we couldn’t waste these precious tickets. They came with complimentary passes into an elite tailgate party, where fabulous fare was being catered by some of our area’s finest restaurants and caterers.  If I appreciate anything in life, it’s the privilege of hobnobbing around delicious food.

Additional points of persuasion:
1. No one travels over 35 miles per hour on the interstate on College Game Day. In fact, that’s why they named this stretch of road “I 35.”
2. Both boys have responsible on-campus older brothers that would be waiting for them with open arms right there in college town. Metaphorically ready and able to catch them should they fall.
3. If I don’t let them drive, Option B was that I myself would drive them and hang out around the stadium waiting to drive them home. A 7-8 hour Saturday evening proposition.

Thus, I set them free following a stern lecture on responsibility and sound adult decision-making.

The next morning, we really didn’t care to hear all that much about the game, as we’d caught the highlights on the telly, but we clamored for every detail about the tailgate party, foodies that we are.

Not much to tell!” The Boy-Ginger responded in mono-syllabic grunts, deflecting our queries with general teenaged annoyance.

He then went on, much to our disappointment and dismay, to inform us that the only food vendor he sought out at the tailgate was an all-you-can-eat buffet in our area aptly named, The Golden Corral. In fact, he went back, not once, not twice, but thrice for additional helpings of their chicken wings.

And then, worst fears confirmed, the boys proceeded to drink. Wantonly and recklessly. From a chocolate fountain. Provided by, none other than, you guessed it – The Goldenest of Corrals.

Honestly, I’d heard enough. The next thing you know, he’d be telling me they dipped the wings in the chocolate sauce.

For the first time in weeks I found myself actually cheered by the fact that our other offspring are up and out of the house, so we can focus what’s left of our joint parenting energies undistracted on this last remaining child, who obviously still needs so much from us before he’s ready to fly off.

I no longer suffer from the malaise of “Almost-Empty Nest Syndrome!”  Wings or no wings, I’ve still got plenty of work to do around here.

I knew we should’ve signed him up for Cotillion when we had the chance.