Friday, June 13, 2008
Bad Cop Mom
Last weekend, at the after-after Senior Prom party, I was labeled the "Bad Cop Mom." Shame on me for suggesting a certain sweet-faced reveler might re-think waving her near-empty bottle of Jack Daniels in the air while weaving past me. "I'm right here!" I said. "And I'm a chaperone!" Horrors! The nerve! I made her cry! I wonder if she'd have burst into tears without a fifth of whisky sloshing around under her size one belt? We'll never know. I won't be asked to chaperone the after-after Prom party, ever again. I won't ever again get to experience the huddled group of girls, mascara running in after-Prom drama, shooting me the stink-eye because I ruined their night, and quite possibly their lives, by daring to close off the door to the basement where the beer was stashed. I won't be asked again because, that's right, I'm the "Bad Cop Mom." Hey, I was called by the hostess, assigned a job, and did it. I didn't mean to be mean. I just chose to interpret the word "chaperone" in my own way. The Right Way. The "Bad Cop Mom" way. Words I think Erma herself might have uttered in my after-after Prom situation: For God's sake, if you're going to drink it, at least have the decency to hide it.
How can a moniker including the word "bad" feel so darned good?
This parenting of 18-year-olds is a tricky business. A confusing business. In Illinois, I was legal at 18. Now, 18-year-olds can't drink legally, even though they're "adults." They're supposed to act like adults. We expect them to act like adults. They can drive, get married, buy houses, choose our next President and fight for our country, but they can't go into a bar and order a Smirnoff Ice. They're leaving for college, where they will almost certainly have a bleary night or two (hundred), but on their home turf, they might as well be 12. Still, try as I have, I just can't turn a blind eye and bless their drinking in my house, or at the after-after Prom party. I'm just not that cool. I'd like to be, but dammit, I'm just not. I admit it. I'm a rule follower. Even if the rules are stupid.
So, as my daughter starts her last summer before college, I batten down the hatches. I'm ready. For two more months, I will check the window locks to the basement and sniff the Taco Bell cups I carry up on Sunday mornings to see if the Sprite was spiked, not that I could do a whole lot at that point if it was. I will thank God that our daughter seems more sensible than most. I will preach and worry and, for a moment, wish my offspring weren't quite so social. I will try to sleep before the one a.m. curfew and end up lying awake instead, wondering if my 15-year-old son will carry on this torch of sleeplessness when he's 18. And I will maintain the uncool, no-drinking-at-our-house policy that seems to ensure that kids only come here lately before they go somewhere else or when they want to "hang out and watch a movie." We McKones do love a good movie night! It all seems a little silly, knowing what September will hold, but for now, I wear my title as proudly as if it was flocked in black on a satin sash. It's all I know how to be. I am the "Bad Cop Mom."