9/7/09

Teen Driving, Car Chases, and a Healthy Argument Discussion

Monday~September 7th, 2009

Yesterday, while at the state fair, we happened by a sea of cars on display. So the boys spent a good half hour climbing in and out, grabbing steering wheels and shaking them from side to side, Ryan included.

Meanwhile, I went to get buffalo chips. (No, not actual buffalo, the animal, but buffalo like buffalo wing sauce but on fries, not wings. With sour cream. End of explanation.)

I'm not all that into steering wheels or climbing in and out of cars, but I sure am into pretty much any fair food. Except alligator on a stick...not that.

Anyway...

When I got back, Ryan excitedly told me there was something new with some of the display models they were climbing in and out of. He said that the speedometers can be set so they won't go over a certain speed. Then he went on to say that there's also a setting that won't allow the car to start unless the seat belts are buckled.

He said, "Isn't that cool? Wouldn't that be great for parents of teens?"



While handing a fry, dripping with sour cream to Asher, I distractedly replied with a big fat no.

He said, "WHAAAT??? C'mon! You don't think that's cool?"

So I gave my very wise response. Something like, "Sure, teens need boundaries and sound instruction and set expectations, but controlling these settings on their car? No, I don't agree. How will they ever learn to make good choices on their own and all that?"

Then he said that I should consider the fact that the teenage mind is incapable of making responsible decisions.

Then I said that wasn't entirely true, that kids are learning how to make responsible decisions in their teen years, and even if they're missing part of their brain for a while, it's their chance to learn responsibility. If they have to do that by making mistakes, then that's how they'll learn. I gave the example of speeding, saying that if a teenager should so happen to get a ticket (with a car that is not set to go only a certain speed), they learn that there's a price to pay if rules aren't followed.

I was so proud of my response.

But then my dear husband quickly retorted, "Well, they won't learn a lesson if their car rolls over in a ditch and they die."

Point taken.

I had to think fast.

So I did that whole thing where I ramble on, talking about how there are a lot of things we can't control in life. And yes, of course I would like to prevent my children from ever driving so fast without seat belts that they would lose their lives, but I can't control everything. What we can do is teach our kids to be safe and then pray all the time. And cross our fingers and toes and hold our breath...and possibly ground them for weeks should they get a ticket for speeding and then talk for days on end about what it would be like to roll over in a ditch. (Well OK. I didn't say all of that...but I made my point.)

After my rambling, Ryan started using his high-pitched voice, "I can't believe you don't think this is cool!!!" And then he went back to checking out the cars and thinking about deep fried chocolate chip cookies.


The whole discussion got me thinking about my earliest driving years.

I stood there with my Dad, reliving out loud a time when I was about seventeen, and I (and some unfortunate friends) were chased down country roads by a strange man who had come out of nowhere, speeding faster and faster behind me, forcing me to step on the gas and GO. I was driving as fast as my '82 Chevy Celebrity would let me, trying to escape this creepy man who was trying to run me off the road.

True story.

I'm not sure what speed my little clunker reached (because the speedometer was broken and would just float behind the plastic window, bouncing from side to side). But I do know I was able to do at least 80mph in that hunk-a-junk.

The guy gave up after about 15 miles, suddenly pulling into an empty church parking lot and watching us speed away.


Good job, two-toned brown Celebrity, you saved us!



"Ugh, that was so scary," I shivered and looked up at my Dad.

Long pause.

"Good thing you didn't have my speedometer set to 60."

(Hopefully you sense the humor in that statement. Of course, it wasn't funny at the time, but we had a good laugh over it now.)

In ending, if you're on my side of this argument, go ahead and use that information as ammo. You could say something like, "And what if the teenager is being chased by some lunatic predator!?! They'll need to go fast! Just that once!"

You're welcome.



(photos courtesy of flickr)

50 clicked right here to comment:

katdish said...

Totally agree with you. You must allow your children to fail. The younger the better. I used to bring my kid's homework to school if they forgot it. Then one day I decided to let them get a mark instead. Guess what? They check for their homework before they leave the house now. Hurt a little now, or hurt a little later. I wonder how many people sit in jail because they mom or dad just couldn't save them that time? Sorry. I'm getting preachy...

So in conclusion. You are right.

Heather of the EO said...

Why thank you, Katdish...

I do have to mention that my husband did see my point. He mostly just thought it was cool that a car would even have the capability to control such things. He's a lover of fancy car tricks. :)

Lindsay said...

AND if you live in the boonies where instead of freeways there are scary 2 lane hiways (so you go in the opposing traffic lane to pass) you need to be able to get up to warp speed for passing scary vehicles like logging trucks or trucks carrying hay bales that could fall off and land in your windshield and... YEAH. No speed restrictions please.

Also, I do believe the first adult decision I got to make was at age 21 and lo' was that disastrous. Kids need some easing into this sort of thing so they can learn on lower stakes issues.

Nap Warden said...

Alright...I gotta ask...They don't really have alligator on a stick, do they?

Annette Lyon said...

You know what I think would be cool is to install one of those little computer thingys that record what your kids has done so you can tell afterward how fast they've gone and whatnot--they can do whatever and then you can bust them if need be or have discussions or whatever. (This kind of thing scares the bejeebies out of me--in about a year, I'll have a kid in driver's ed--eep!)

But I also totally get your teen experience. I had a rich friend with a convertible Mustang. We were often chased by guys in that thing. If it didn't have the power to escape with its engine, we could have gotten into some seriously creepy situations. (I don't think my parents ever knew about that, but it happened nearly every time we went out in her car.)

blueviolet said...

Mixed feelings on this. I too had to get away from somebody and I needed engine power to do it.

Melanie J said...

Fair food...

Yummmmm....

sara said...

Okay, being the mom of 3 teenagers, 2 of which are boys...I so wish I had that on my kid's cars!!

I do agree that natural consequences are the best teachers at this age, however, there are some things that are too tempting for kids..no matter how good they are. Speeding is one. They can still learn the lesson of a ticket if they are speeding in a 40 mph zone....but if I had the opportunity to lock the speeding to 65 mph (my kids drive on the freeway a lot)...you BET I would do it.

Heather of the EO said...

You never know, maybe when my boys are teens, I'll totally change my tune on this.

I was mostly being silly with this post, but I do think it's food for thought.

I guess I wonder about our ability to control things. Such a fine line. I sure want to protect my kids, but where does it end? (Not to be dramatic, just saying.)

Kristina P. said...

Last week, there were 4 teenagers killed in a car crash after a 13 year-old snuck out at night and got into a car with 3 16 year-olds, who proceeded to drive 90 miles an hour through a canyon, and flipped the car onto a guard rail.

But your arguments sounds good too. :)

Heather of the EO said...

Ugh...that's so sad, Kristina!

I do understand that setting the car at a lower speed would prevent such horrible things. Again, I just don't know how I feel about it all...

tracking kids in their vehicles, Hulk Hogan style (or was I the only one that OCCASIONALLY watched that reality show?), texting them constantly, regulating the speed of their car, etc.

I'm just coming from my own experience here. I think it totally depends on the individual kid and the individual situation. Tricky stuff.

Heather of the EO said...

Oh. And Nap Warden...

they really do have alligator on a stick. :) I have a photo to prove it. I'll have to post that.

Sherry said...

If I had to choose...I'd say yes to the controls on the car. I've heard about the speed control thingy, my step-dad told me he was going to put one on my car (when I was 16, I'm now 32). I didn't believe something like that even existed, but it did/does...I think it's called a governor.

But what I really wanted to comment on was the FAIR FOOD! I cannot go to a fair without getting a funnel cake with strawberry topping and lots of powered sugar. Oooooooohhhhh, my taste buds have come alive just thinking about it.

Jen said...

I agree with you. Life is all about learning from your mistakes and unfortunately, you have to make those mistakes.

Chief said...

K, so I see both sides...

What about this.... don't set it so they can't speed, just have a tracker so you can see if they DID go say...above 80 mph. Then when they get home and you find out, you kick their asses. This way, they get to fail AND they see the consequences, hopefully before they die in a ditch.

Im a genius

parentingBYdummies said...

I will not allow my kids to have their speedometer set. But, I'm also not letting them drive until they turn 18. I figure I'll let them try and fail at other stuff not quite so likely to kill 'em. Besides, I disagreed with my parents' decision to keep me bus bound until 18, but now I see their point and, since it didn't kill me, I'm okay with it. They made at least like 5 good choices when I was growing up, and I'm thinking this was one of them. I don't think it'll hurt my oldest too badly anyway, he has a late (or perhaps early) birthday so he turns 18 right after the beginning of his senior year in high school; plenty of time to do plenty of dumb things behind the wheel of his cheap car!

Elaine A. said...

You could always find that baby in the parking lot, couldn't you? Hee hee!

I can see both sides on this but also feel that kids need to learn from their mistakes and that we can only control so much...

minnesotamom said...

My first car was a two-toned blue Celebrity. Oh, the coolness. His name was Sullivan (Sully).

I tend to lean toward your side of this argument.

Tiffany said...

Do the cars come with bubble wrap too??

I know of at least 2 times my Mustang 5.0 convertible needed to go over 65 mph....

As someone who employs 20 somethings every summer, I am concerned about parent control- we have parents calling us when their ADULT child gets fired... really?

Cut the cord.

I wonder how I'll feel in 10 years when its my son driving....

T

K and/or K said...

1. Love that car. One of 4 former station wagons had the spedometer broken and I called it the approximater.

2. I agree with you, but I hate rules and this feels like a rule. It would make me want to sneak around with a grease monkey who would break it for me.

3. Deep fried cookies? I missed those!

Em said...

Forget speed limitations - I want a cell phone/texting jamming device - as long as the engine is running, they can't receive or send.

There would need to be an emergency switch on it, but in general, those things need to be gone.

For what it's worth, my Hubs would be totally excited about that technology as well - it's a miracle he survived his teen years.

Oh, and the #1 new item at the Texas State Fair this year - deep fried butter.

I kid you not.

Billy Coffey said...

I had my license for two weeks when I hit a car because I was trying to make out with my girlfriend and drive at the same time. Rather than take care of things for me, my parents made me get a job and pay for repairs to both the other car and mine. I've never forgotten that, and never will. From then on, I made all my girlfriends stay put in their seat where they belonged.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Very interesting argument... I can see both sides. I guess it would come down to the teenagers involved. It may be a good idea for some - but like you, I prefer the idea of teaching them to use good judgement.

Chele said...

Haha... I love you Heather! You crack me up! Thanks for the ammo! :)

Christy said...

Very interesting...but I'm on your side. My brother (sixteen at the time) once avoided an accident with a tractor trailer because he was able to floor it in his car and speed out of the way of the out of control truck. If his speedometer had been set, he would have been toast.

Becca said...

There's that idea that somehow, we need to help our kids find "self-control" even when the other controls are turned off (the speedometer, the TV stations, the internet). I'm with you on finding our own way to set limits and boundaries, and discovering the joy of obedience and the consequences of disobedience.

charrette said...

We just had this exact conversation yesterday. (Not the car part, but the agency part). Our son was home for the weekend. We discussed how much control we should exercise, and how much we should let him make his own choices, even if it includes some hefty mistakes. We opted for a good talk, and letting him make his own choice. He chose right. (Huge sigh of relief). And I ultimately think he's stronger because we allowed him to make that choice.

You were right.
But those things are so much harder in real life, with a real, at-risk teenager standing in front of you than they are in theory. Thank heaven we opted for agency.

Becky said...

I knew there was something missing in my life! Buffalo chips. I could be a perfectly happy, well-rounded individual if only I had buffalo chips. (Whew! Good to have something to blame.)

Now, I'm all about boundaries, but kids have to learn for themselves which choices are bad and which are good. I have a father who thought that doing things for me and forcing me, though fear, to make correct decisions was the way to turn me into a good person. But my first year of college was a nightmare! I was self-conscious, scared, and reckless at the same time. It doesn't work to have someone calling the shots for 18 years only to find yourself in the real world floundering and virtually helpless. So yeah, I'm with you on this one.

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

This is a tough one though. As a mother you spend all of your time worrying like crazy and training yourself to keep that worry under control. Of course it would be nice to protect your children from every possibility but does that just make for a reckless and thoughtless adult life because they weren't able to learn those important lessons on their own during their younger years? I don't know, but I feel like you can only protect your kids for so long and eventually they will have to learn these things on their own.

Deb said...

you're right, by the way. how do i know? because i agree with you.

we are currently having this discussion at our house. the state does a pretty good job of indoctrinating the teens. but i do know that he will speed. he will make mistakes. he will use poor judgment. but i, as his parent, can't control everything, as much as i would love to. i know it sounds like i am just throwing my hands up and saying, "oh well, if he dies in a firey crash, i guess it was meant to be!" but, i am telling you... he is two years away from college and i want him to have the practice making decisions for himself and using good judgment NOW, before he is completely cut loose from the leash. does any of this make sense?

by the way, my husband is COMPLETELY FOR the speed cutter offer thingy. and he also wants to have one of those alcohol monitor things wired to the engine so it won't start if the driver has been drinking. maybe it's a man thing?

Fresh Mommy said...

Wow, crazy story!!! It really is a good thing that you didn't have a block on your speed. I'm not sure what I think yet, but I do believe that teenagers should be able to make decisions and live with the natural consequences. Hopefully as parents, we'll raise them to make the better decisions. :)

~Tabitha

Kathy B! said...

It's hard to let your kids fail but an important lesson. What a fun post this was!!

Dave said...

speed governor? no

tracking device that says how fast they were going and how hard they hit the brakes? not just yes, but hell yes :-)

Kori said...

Ask your insurance agent about the tracking thing; there is one out there called Teensurance, and it does monitor speeds, where your kids are, etc....you can review it if need be OR you can start to track them via the GPS if they don't show up where/when they are supposed to. Just sayin.

And while I see your point, I also see your husband's.

And I love fair food, too.

MidnightCafe said...

Thank you for your story! Seriously, I'm on your side, and I know I'll end up using that story sometime.

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

I'm trying to give up the illusion that I control a lot of things in my life. Once they get their licenses, you lose a lot of control, and you have to make peace with it. Only prayer helps.

mama-face said...

Gosh you make me laugh and cry at the same time ALL the time.

This weekend a teenager whom I love (a friend of one my children) made a very stupid choice; messed up a lot of stuff. I thought of this while reading this and wondered what if someone had just stepped in and... you know.

I've been thinking about pretty much just this and trying to accept the fact that the only way any of us learn is through trial and error. Some mistakes are much harder to learn from and hurt more than just the one; but it has to be this way.

And even though this darling child has made a big mistake, it was his to make. All these controls are going to bite us in the butt.

I just turned your beautiful post into a rant for me. sorry! I love your driving story. I ran into a power pole the first month I had my license. Where were the anti-power pole controls!

Christy M. said...

You are SO right. Gosh, I hate it when that happens ;P

So glad you got away from the creepy old guy. For real. Scary.

Christy M. said...

OH! I totally forgot to comment on the buffalo chips. YUM. Can you box some up and send them to me? PRETTY PLEASE!! Don't worry, I've got my own sour cream :)

Kimberly said...

I totally see both sides on this one. I'm hugely in favour of giving our children choices so that they can learn and grow (that's what our Heavenly Father did with us, after all). But then again I know a family who lost their teenage son because he was driving 80 on rainy roads and skidded out of control into a tree. I can't help thinking they'd take your hubby's side, but my own parenting philosophy has me inclined to take yours.

Kazzy said...

I must admit I was shocked when my oldest never got in a wreck and never got a speeding ticket. Ever. I would have laid money on it!

Haley said...

Great post. And how weird to be chased down by a freak in the middle of the night!

Scary!

Blessed said...

I want to know if I can control the speed on my car with one of those thingymabobbers - because then I wouldn't constantly look down at the speedometer and go oh no I'm speeding again... sigh.

Fair food - I'm soooo jealous, we missed the fair this year :( I've already written it on the calendar for next year!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Um, I think my kids will learn loads about responsibility when they spend all their free time doing chores around my house and digging ditches and such since they're the only one of their friends who don't even HAVE a license.

I've thought this through wisely, don't you think? Bet you wish I was *your* mom. (snort)

april said...

I'm totally with you on this. My dad is TERRIBLE about thinking that my brother and I should learn from HIS mistakes. He just cannot get that we need to make our own choices and live our own lives and pay for the consequences of our actions, even though we're 27 and 31.

Drives.me.bonkers.

Lee of MWOB said...

Heather. This one is worth a lively discussion but....I agree with your man. Sorry. Teens have NO CLUE about how to control themselves when it comes to driving. Boys especially. There are plenty of stats to prove it. I worked on a documentary where I did plenty of research on this very topic of teens and driving and if there is technology that makes them drive slower.....I say hell yes.

But yes also to personal responsibility. Just not with early driving. The temptation is too great.

Are you mad?

:-)

Debbie said...

Well, the only sane response to this post is: funnel cakes and fried candy bars? Why are foods that obviously God meant for us to eat daily only served at fairs?
And to get to that other little point you were making, I'm on your side. You gotta let them go.
And pray.
A lot.

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

What is it with high speed creepers on country roads? I outran one or two of them myself in my younger years...but in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I did attempt to nix my daughter's purchase of a convertible unless she pledged to wear a helmet every time she traveled sans top. I lost that argument to a husband with a viewpoint that totally mirrors your and a daughter with a lot of fashion sense.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Umm... still stuck on the whole "buffalo chips" thing. Because buffalo chips? Are what the pioneers and First Americans collected to use as fuel for their fires. And those buffalo chips? Are not exactly edible. I just can't believe you eat something called "buffalo chips." So... what else were you talking about? I forget. Heh.

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm with you on the choice thing. We all love our freedom. We all relish having choice. I believe that taking away choice incites rebellion and anger. I don't want those feelings between my kids and I. Every day is a risk, whether they drive in a car or accept a joint from a friend. I just have to do like you said and teach them first and pray, pray, pray.

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