Not that there’s anything wrong, really, with Texas

parentsTo our darling son who wants to go to a gaming convention in Texas next summer – an epic road trip with his friend and his friend’s brother who will technically be an adult by that time, and doubtlessly fully capable of assuming all the responsibility for your posse:

We do trust you. It’s not that. And dad sincerely apologizes for snorting Pepsi out his nose at your heartfelt plea. That was insensitive of him.

Our ‘no’ should not be taken as a reflection our trust or lack thereof. Nor is it a statement about your friend, or your friend’s brother. Or their whole, entire family or their ancestors for that matter. We’ve never met these people, so we obviously can’t form an opinion about them.

You asked me “What could possibly happen” to two boys who will be sixteen by then, and a just-recently-turned-eighteen year-old on a road trip from Idaho to Texas.

That’s an excellent question.

Let’s assume that you, your friend, and your friend’s brother are as well behaved as anyone could expect for a group of young gentlemen on such an excursion: refraining from using the car stereo, talking, or doing anything to distract whoever’s driving (well below the posted speed limit); and remembering to hold doors for people, use table manners, say please, excuse me, and thank you, and so forth. We’ll assume this behavior as a baseline for the purpose of this conversation.

You asked me “What could possibly happen” to two sixteen year-old boys and a just-turned-eighteen-year-old on a road trip from Idaho to Texas. You know I have an imagination, and the first list I developed in response to this question was, well, let’s say it was rather fantastical. I went ahead and crossed some things off, including your falling into a spontaneously formed sinkhole that’s actually a crater to the center of the earth. That’s probably pretty rare. I also took avalanches off the list, since it will be summer.

The list we have now, while not exhaustive, is far more realistic, in no particular order, and without regard to any calculation of odds that any one or more of them might happen.

Things that could possibly happen to two sixteen year-old boys and an eighteen year-old on an epic multi-state road trip:

The semi-driver on a thirty-six hour no-sleep bender – Does your friend’s brother have the reflexes he needs to navigate on the freeway around the a sixteen-ton behemoth randomly changing lanes at 80 miles per hour right next to you? I’m talking about REAL semis on a REAL freeway, not the ones on the Xbox. I’ll answer that for you, no. He’s likely been driving for fewer than three years. Freeway skills take time.

The potentially life-threatening illness – Does anyone traveling with you have the ability to tell what your temperature is with the back of her hand? For that matter, do any of you know the difference between the stomach flu and food poisoning? How about the symptoms for meningitis? What about the plague? Flesh eating bacteria? FLESH-EATING-FREAKING-BACTERIA, people. That’s a real thing. You have a plan for that?

The Act of God – You’re talking about traveling to a state that has dust storms, hurricanes and tornados (I’m pretty sure). What do you do when hit with the storm of the century, huh? Don’t forget, Texas is also a Bible belt state, so you could also be dealing with swarms of locusts depending upon God’s mood. You boys have a locust plan?

The Hitcher – Remind me to put this on our Netflix list if you haven’t seen Rutger Hauer serving up fingers and fries to C. Thomas Howell. Serial killers are out there, son, and they’re almost always looking for a lift.

The Zombie Apocalypse – Imagine being separated from your family by a couple thousand miles when the end of days is upon us. Remember how this is supposed to go down? You and Colin are both the brains and the muscle of our outfit. Dad and I will ultimately prove to be useless anchors because our middle-aged sentimentality won’t allow us to grasp the realities of the new world, but WE WILL be reason enough for you and your brother to stick together as well as provide poignant, fireside monologues about how life used to be.

At least until we’re set upon and eaten in the heart-rending season finale.

I know what you’re going to say, and yes, this is all stuff that could still happen while you’re under the supervision of someone we consider a responsible adult.

Except, dude, I DO have a locust plan, I KNOW what Rutger Hauer looks like, I have the reflexes of a freeway ninja AND I can tell if you have a 1 degree temperature at twenty paces by the look in your damn eyeball.

So, yeah, what I’m saying is there might be a family trip to Texas in our future so you can go to your gaming conference … er, convention. Whatever.

Do we get to dress up?


You don’t need a whole list of reasons to vote, do you? Thank you, mucho.



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  1. Boy, can I relate to this. My son isn\’t interested in driving himself, but he wants to ride around with a friend who has been in trouble and has supposedly learned his lesson. I envision this kid taking my son on a drug run or blowing up mailboxes. It\’s scary, and it\’s difficult to draw the line between where you\’re supposed to protect your children and where you\’re supposed to trust them and let them grow up. Ugh!

    1. Oh man, the influence of friends at this age is everything, and can trump all the good parenting you\’ve done. I hate wondering if I\’ve prepared them well enough to tow the line. We\’ve been lucky so far…

    1. Oh my God, parenting, it is SO STINKING FUN. I\’m not joking.

      Except when it\’s not. Then it\’s just stinking.

      But making stupid answers up in answer to stupid requests, that\’s always good fun.

  2. That was a hoot to read, probably not to imagine. RTX was awesome. I took my 11 year old, but we live in town. Bring the whole family next year, and yes you can dress up.

    1. Thanks! Do they do it in Austin every year? We actually do want to plan a family visit. Oh, and, you know, kidding about the wrath of God stuff. 🙂

  3. Oh..I am dealing with the same sort of thing…

    my baby boy is 16 now and thinks that we\’re ridiculous that we still have curfews and rules about no road trips…HE\’S A GROWNUP!


  4. So, last Summer, our then sixteen-year-old son, came home with nunchucks. Nun-freaking-chucks. Big, honking, wooden nunchucks that filled me with visions of the ER.

    His father and I, who love and trust him, and know him to be a conscientious person, discussed it with the knowledge that while we trust and love him, he has four younger brothers, at least one of whom has no sense of danger.

    When we explained to him our decision that he had to return them to the friend from whom they came, he looked us in the eye and said, \”what\’s the worst that could happen?\”

    Savvy computer mom that I am, I jumped up saying, \”Hey, lets Google that!\”

    At that point, the child saw his defeat, and walked out of the room throwing a \”Fine, I get it\” over his shoulder.

    Here\’s the thing though. I went back later, when I was less hyped up on righteous your-brothers-could-kill-each-other energy and had a conversation. I reminded him of the many times I have said \”yes\” to things he wanted to do, how I\’ve encouraged him in gaming and pursuits that other mothers might not be as cool with. I reminded him of the many things that I\’ve trusted him on. And then I said that maybe, just maybe, I was wrong on this (I wasn\’t though. Nope. Not even a little bit. Nunchucks!) but that maybe I had earned being wrong on something. And maybe he could trust me on something, and let me have that one. He agreed, and gave them up really easily.

    Parenting capitol is a thing. Hold it, build it, and when necessary, use it.

    A gaming convention sounds really fun, though. I\’d totally go for a local one.

    1. Wow, that was a good parenting moment.

      I remember outlawing yo-yos in the house for the very same reason. I was constantly astonished at the number of people who thought it was a great idea to give two, young boys yo-yos.

      I\’ve never had to talk someone out of nunchucks, but there was a little incident involving someone bringing over throwing stars. Great.

  5. How many movies have started out with a group of teens on a road trip and look how they end? Toom many drugs, too much sex and getting chased by a homicidal maniac. Oh god how to bear it. My 12 year old daughter wants to go to a gamer convention. Luckily she is still at the age where she wants me to chauffeur her. I could go as long I didn\’t talk directly to her and walked a few steps behind.