September 1, 2012

Parenting Dilemma

Here is the dilemma. Our son Rob, age 13, got an invitation to a friend's 14th birthday party barbecue. And when I say "invitation," I don't mean a paper card, I mean the friend told him about it. We drove him to the party at 4:00, and when I say "we," I mean Paul.

Originally I was going to drive him, and my plan was to go up to the house, introduce myself to the parents, get a magical feeling that everything was okay and that our views on supervision of teenagers was compatible, exchange phone numbers with the parents, and ask when to pick Rob up.

But what Paul did was drop him off in the driveway, waving to a distant adult as he did so. So! We don't know when the party ends! We don't know ANYTHING!

Keeping in mind that Paul is SORRY, and also that he couldn't have our usual Saturday Night Drinks because one of us had to be completely dry to go pick up Rob later and that got to be Paul because he cheesed things up---keeping all that in mind, what would YOU do? Would you...wait to get a call from Rob, somehow? Go back to the house at a certain time and just...see if the party is over? This is new territory for us, and we're not sure if Rob would feel comfortable asking to use the host's phone, or if Rob would know to take an "Okay, the party is over now" hint, or what the protocol is for 14-year-old parties.


Update: What we did was wait until about 7:45 (assuming in the meantime that Rob would be capable of calling us from the host's phone if necessary, and wishing he'd remembered to bring one of the family cell phones with him), and then Paul drove over there---but with a casual attitude, ready to hear something like, "They're right in the middle of a movie" or whatever, at which point he would have said, "Okay! When should I come back for him?" Instead, his timing was very good: kids were still hanging around, but a couple had already been picked up, so it was fine for Rob to leave with him right then.

24 comments:

shin ae said...

I would go at a time I thought was reasonable for the party to be over, and that would be the end for my kid whether it was over or not.

I'm so glad I don't have to deal with this yet.

Anonymous said...

With my girls I always make sure they have a cell phone (they share a virgin mobile, it's $25/month) so I can reach them whenever I need to in a situation like this. Otherwise, I'd likely call the house and ask to speak to Rob and tell him "we'll be there at blah blah time" and nail it down so I wouldn't fret all night.

d e v a n said...

I'd do one of two things.
1 - call and speak to Rob.
2- show up 2-3 hours after drop up and pick him up.

My husband would do the same thing! Do they never think!? (what a blessing that must be, at times!)

Swistle said...

Anonymous- We don't have the phone number of the house.

JudithNYC said...

What shin ae said. My "kids" are 39 yrs old. Woo-hoo!

Anonymous said...

I would wait till he calls. He is 14, he will figure it out. Give him a chance to show you he is responsible.

A'Dell said...

An excellent situation where having a mobile phone on the teenager's person would be helpful, which is of course no use to you at this moment. (SORRY!)

I might just go by after dinner at like 8 or so and be like, "Um, wasn't sure when to pick up? Hi?"

And them Rob will make sure he gets all the party details for the next time, so he isn't picked up early.

bluedaisy said...

My first thought was that I'd track down the phone #. Do you have #'s of any of the other kids who are at the party? Even if you don't, between the internet and school directories, it shouldn't be hard to find. I am assuming you know the last name and even if you don't, you know the address. So I'd track that # down and call. (I like Yahoo People Search) Otherwise, I'd follow A'Dell's suggestion.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- He's 13, and socially inexperienced. (The party child is 14.)

Robin said...

First thought: Go pick him up 2 hours after drop off. Second thought: I like what 8:45 said - use this to teach responsibility. Wait for him to call you. Although I'd probably be waiting while sitting in my car down the block staking out the party house :)

You have to post what you actually did!

beyond said...

this is EXACTLY what my husband would do. I mean, this is what he will do in 12 years...
:)

HereWeGoAJen said...

I don't know. So my plan is to freeze time so that none of my children ever reach 13.

Jessica said...

I would go to whitepages.com, select the "address & neighbors" tab, then enter the address. I just tried it with my address and my name and my husband's name came up. If you click on the name, their phone number will be in the listing, unless it's unlisted or they don't have a home phone. (We don't - just cells - but I tried it with my grandparent's names and the home # came up.)

If this doesn't work, I'd go over around 8 or so and Rob would be going home at that time whether the party was over or not. For some reason I feel like a 14-year-old party would last even later than that, but I don't know why, as that's already a 4-hour party. Maybe go over at 7?

(Given that it's already 10pm where I live I assume this dilemma is solved? What did you do?)

Jessica said...

(I should mention the reverse-address lookup isn't entirely foolproof. In addition to my name and my husband's name, another completely random name was listed. It's not the name of the people we bought the house from, nor anyone else whose junk mail we get and assume are former residents.)

(I hope this person isn't my husband's mistress or something.)

Meg said...

Oh boy. I've never been through this, though my eldest is 12 so I'm expecting similar at some point.

If the party house is closeish I'd probably head over IMMEDIATELY and just have a quick chat to him and to whoever's supervising. I'd hate it socially because I hate showing up at a socially awkward time (just! after! dropping! the kid off!) but I'd probably do it immediately because I know what I'm like and I know I'd fret about it otherwise.

But that's what I'd do, I know it wouldn't necessarily be right for anyone else.

And yes please I want to hear afterwards what you did!

Kristen said...

Sooooo? What happened?

CARRIE said...

I would just sit in my jail cell and stew over the whole thing (after murdering my husband), which is no help to the 13-year-old at all.

Dr. Maureen said...

What did you do? I would have gone over at 7-7:30 I think, but I'm too late to advise.

Mrs. Irritation said...

Also dying to know what you did and so happy I get to learn from your experience. Sorry for the angst you got to experience, though.

bluedaisy said...

Dying to know what happened!!!

Mary said...

This is what 13 year olds do, and also 14 through 22 year olds. There probably isn't an end time for the party, they'll just hang out until they get bored. This is why I got my kids cell phones when they were 14. It gives both of us so much more freedom, I know that I can always find out where they are when I need to, and that they can always reach me when they need to (later on a few years it means I don't have to worry myself sick about them riding with drunk drivers, because they can always call me to come get them).

What did you end up doing?

Guinevere said...

I think the etiquette for parties for this age group is that there usually isn't a defined "end date" because the party involves less parental entertainment and more teenagers hanging out... so, I think what I'd do in your place is just wait for your son to call you for a pickup (if it's something possible for you to do without driving yourself up a tree, that is.) If you can handle it, I think it's a good exercise in responsibility and also I'm pretty sure that parents would remind/offer the phone when the party is starting to break up and/or they are ready for the party to be over.

If you can't handle that (and I do understand), I'd use the power of the internet to get a hold of the phone number (whitepages.com as suggested by previous poster, or the calling parents of other kids at the party to get the number) and remind the son that it's his job to call you about half an hour before he needs to be picked up, as well as ask if there is some notion of time frame in which that might be happening.

Laura said...

I've actually had this exact situation happen with my newly minted 14 year old. I ended up texting him like a crazy maniac to find out what time I should pick him up and make sure he was being supervised.

As an aside, I let him go to an overnight birthday party a few weeks ago. I did talk to the mother who seemed to be on the same parenting page. There were girls at the party, but I assumed they would leave as the night wore on. Unfortunately (and horrifying to me!) the girls stayed overnight in a separate room, but also in the basement where the boys slept. I almost threw up on the front step when I went to pick him up. Who allows co-ed sleepovers for middle schoolers? We've decided from now on we will only allow "late nights" which is a pick up of 10 or 10:30, but we're done with sleepovers for a long, long time. Maybe forever. This age is almost as hard as having a newborn baby as a first time mother. (ps - my word verification is "hot bods" HA!)

Jen LC said...

so glad it worked out, swistle...and OMG PANIC at the comment right above mine re middle-school sleepovers.

these are the kinds of things that make me want to lock my daughters (5 and 2) in the g-d attic.

(not really.)

(ish.)