Saturday, February 12, 2011

Moral authority

This is something I often lack in my day-to-day interactions with others. And today I was tested.

Andrew wanted to go spend the night at a friend of a friend's (FOF for short) house, the second night in a row away from home (last night he went to a friend's after returning quite late from soccer, so they could go fishing today). This FOF's place is right on the San Antonio River and the three boys were going to go fishing tonight.

I called the mom to get more information, because I didn't know this family at all. (By the way, I often bypass this step.) As we were talking, she shared with me that her son and Andrew's friend would also likely go hunting for turkeys and wild pigs in the dark tonight, with guns. The father in this family is in law enforcement and this high school freshman boy is, per his mom, very experienced in handling guns. So I said, in lieu of freaking out, I'll have to talk with Andrew about that because he is not very experienced handling guns.Note I didn't say, oh, that sounds just great! But, nor did I question her judgment in any overt way.

So I didn't immediately freak out, but I did tell Dwaine about it and he asked, what kind of guns? Well, I have no idea, really. To me, a gun is a gun. But, a beebee gun is really different than a handgun. I get that.

Dwaine sort of laughed at the idea of three teenage boys, unsupervised, going fishing at nighttime, oh, and hunting too. Probably this is something he did as a boy, along with running away from the cops on his dirt bike with his buddies. Does it mean my boys should have the same full range of experience?

Well, something kept nagging at me. I don't know quite what it was, but ... perhaps the voice of reason? Really, five other adults (the other two boys' parents and my husband) apparently were not hearing this little voice nagging at them, but I was. It was getting louder and louder, actually. Then it dawned on me that I simply could not allow my son to be in this risky situation. Period.

I'm not a strict parent, and I try not to worry. In fact, I bend over backwards to not worry, because my natural tendency is to be anxious about EVERYTHING, and it is not healthy or normal, and I recognize that. So, I tend to quash those feelings when they occur, as they do daily. Why did I have to have two boys, oh why?

Just fortunately in this case, there was this tiny little voice in my head that would not shut up or go away. Not even if it was the only voice like that in the whole, wide, world ... which is how it often feels when we are in a moral predicament, and the other "responsible adults" are looking the other way.

It's almost like God was testing me in this really dramatic, obvious way to assert my moral authority with my teenage boy, and to be unafraid of the result. (This interpretation is just my way of seeing things through the eyes of my faith.) My son's reaction was, worse than anger, deep hurt and disappointment. I had already been wavering on whether to let him go spend the night, and then I said yes, and then I said no. So that was tough on him. I think Andrew feels he will be less of a man in the eyes of his so-called friends now. Well, if that's how they measure him, are they really friends at all?


  1. Right choice, sista. Jeff grew up that way - and he and his friends were very experienced with guns and made money selling pelts, etc....stayed out all night with guns hunting, camping, and they tell these insane stories that they laugh at but curdle my blood....One boy actually shot the knit cap off the top of another boy's head on ACCIDENT. They thought it was hilarious, but that was a fraction away from a tragedy. One of my friends in high school died in an accidental hunting accident - shit - Dick Cheney shot happens and hunting should only be done by experienced individuals who are not under the influence of anything (including peer pressure) and yeah....I feel very strongly about this.

    As for your listening to your inner voice....bravo! I was recently in a position where I ignored mine and Ellie ended up totalling a car (I had not wanted to let her drive while we were gone in the bad weather but everyone made me feel like I was being unreasonable). Of course, if I'd stuck to my guns and she hadn't done it, they would all still be grumbling about how unreasonable I am but that is better than what happened.

  2. I echo Carol - right decision. Listen to that inner voice, for not listening may mean that one day you will not be able to hear it.


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