This happened last night. I'm in New York City - the first time I've left home on business this school year - and my phone rings in the middle of a Broadway show. It's Friday night, I can't see who it is, but it's clearly someone I know because there is a name.
So the phone goes off and at intermission I turn it back on and see it's from the mom of one of my son's friends but there's no message. A few minutes later I pick up a voice mail. My 15 year-old is having a party at my house the weekend I'm gone and he is staying with his dad. She went to drop off her son and a couple of friends and doesn't see my car at the house so she knocks on the door. Inside are a half dozen boys and she asks him if I'm home to which he is somewhat evasive so she calls me. I call her back thank her and start taking deep breaths. Intermission is ending and light are flashing and the theater people are glaring at me so I go outside and call his dad. It's 9:15 and I figure it can't have been going on very long.
"Where is he?"
"He said he was spending the night at a friend's house."
"Well he's having a party at my house, P's mom just called me. What do you want me to do?"
"Go over there, break it up and bring him home. That's what I would do if it was your house."
Of course the theater is ruined but I go back in and try to watch and calm down. I'm furious.
My ex-husband and I were kind of wild teenagers. We had parties when our parents were gone. We excelled at doing things that drove our parents crazy. I once invited a few friends over and ended up with the entire high school. My parents came home and their beautiful new living room furniture had ink all over it, the car was destroyed and the neighbors told on us. In those days, no one called the police.
What I know is that these things can quickly get way out of control. When I come out of the theater I call back my ex and the party is over, everyone went home and my son is in his room. He is very calm and said he talked to him about liability and having other parties. He said that our son told him he had no alcohol or drugs but that others could have. That he will back me up on whatever consequences I decide to enforce. That my son insisted on cleaning up the house before they left.
So of course the great dilemma is what do I do? Part of that decision is to not get in touch with my son for the rest of the weekend and let him worry about what I will do. It's an incredible relief that he was caught and the party was stopped before it had even really got going. The mortification of having your father walk into your house and throw everyone out - in front of all your high school friends who think you are cool - helps alot. I suppose he will be grounded and we will talk about it. I will reinforce the dangers of having parties without parental supervision and how if someone got hurt we could lose our home.
Of course, I'm questioning my parenting skills and what I did and didn't do. There is a part of me that keeps saying - well he is his parents' son. And of course being divorced there will always be opportunities when one parent is out of town and the other is not there watching. That's something we need to remember.
But more than any of that what is gone is my trust that my son will do the right thing and he's been living on that for awhile without me seeing any sign that it would be violated. Well now it has been and we will be watching far more closely, asking a lot more questions and making much stricter ground rules. For that, was a party that got shut down almost immediately really worth it?