Last Friday night, the night before April came home, I got up to use the bathroom about 3am. My house sits pretty far back off of a very quiet street, so I was surprised when, from the bathroom, I could hear a car that sounded like it was in our driveway. Curious, I peeked out the window, to see that there was indeed a car, but not in our driveway. It was driving through our front yard. As I watched, the car stopped, with its lights shining on the house next door. Sure that it would leave while I was doing so, I went to wake Tom up. Tom is never happy when he gets waked up. He came with me to look out the window, and there the car still sat. He pulled on some clothes and went downstairs and turned on the front floodlights. Still the car sat in the yard. Wary of approaching it, Tom called 911. We waited and soon a police car came down the street, shining its searchlight into front yards. The way our house sits back off the road at an angle, the searchlight wasn’t going to come anywhere close to the car in the yard. We walked down the driveway to meet the police officer and then watched while he approached the car and opened the door. We heard him say “Hey, man, are you okay? Do you know where you are?” and then a slurred male voice answered “Yeah, I’m in Cameron Wood,” a neighborhood several miles away. The officer helped the young man out of the car and down to his police car, which he had parked on the street. Soon they came back up the driveway. The young man, a boy really, was asking to call his parents. The officer got the parents’ phone number and called them himself. As he walked away to call the parents, the boy looked at us, gave a little grin and said “So, how ya doin’?” Really, he could think of nothing better to say after getting us out of bed in the middle of the night than “how ya doin’?” Soon the parents arrived, acting very shocked that their son had driven so far off the road (you can’t even see the road from where he had stopped the car) and didn’t know where he was. The police officer explained to them that he couldn’t charge their son with drunk driving, because when he got there he wasn’t driving. Great. The kid gets off Scot Free. No consequences. The brilliant officer noted to me that in the dark he couldn’t see any tracks in front of the car. I pointed out to him that the tracks were behind the car. Duh. The parents, who live only a couple of miles away, gave us their names and address, mumbled some apologetic words, said nothing to their son, and the dad got in and drove the car away. The police officer then told us that the boy was 17 and had been in some trouble before. After he left, I had to look up the kid’s previous arrest record. Felony Breaking and Entering, Larceny, and Possession of Stolen Goods.
Now I really do try hard not to be judgmental when it comes to the parenting practices of
others. I have friends whom I consider good parents whose children have gotten in more than their share of trouble. It’s really hard not to rest on my own parenting laurels and say “I have raised three remarkable wonderful children to adulthood with no arrests or other major issues, let me tell you how to be a better parent.” I know that if I say that, then the ax will fall on me next and it will be one of my kids on the front page of the paper. But honestly, I do want to know what these parents were thinking. Clearly they were embarrassed, but I just want to know where they thought their son was at 3am. Were they even aware that he wasn’t home? Knowing that he had been charged with a felony a few months ago, were they truly oblivious to where he might be in the wee hours of a Saturday morning? I would love to know what they said to him. Perhaps most disturbing to me is that since the incident we have heard nothing from them or their son. Had it been my child, I would have brought him back the next day to see how much damage he did to the yard, and to make him stand and look soberly in our eyes and apologize. But no, nothing. It’s not going to surprise me when in the future I see this kid in the headlines for other criminal acts. I just hope that nobody gets hurt.