August 18, 2009

Helicopter Moms: Skydiving!!!!!!!

(Editor's note: Sometimes it's hard to tell whether you're tackling motherhood in the 21st century -- or being tackled by it. This is the latest in a series of reflections by UPI writers.)

SKOKIE, Ill., Aug.18 (UPI) -- My son jumped out of an airplane!

An airplane -- 14,000 feet up strapped to a guy a foot shorter than he.

I wouldn't even buy him a skateboard when he was little! And forget bungee jumping.

Of course the kid didn't tell me what he had planned. He never even said goodbye when he sneaked out the basement door about 8:30 a.m. I thought he was still sleeping as had been his wont all summer.

He did call about noon to tell me he was on his way home. When I asked where he was, he said he'd tell me all about it when he got home.

Apparently he and eight friends decided to drive up to Wisconsin to make the jump after seeing a video of one of his friends doing it. The four girls let their parents know where they were going, but none of the guys did. Gee, I wonder why they didn't tell us -- not.

It was worth every penny, the prodigal said upon his return.

Don't do it again, I replied.

Not if I have to pay for it, he said. I'd go again for free.

Don't do it again, I said.

I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to worry, he said.

How considerate.

I'd like to try it, my husband rejoined.

That'll cost you more unless you can get six people to go with you, the son pointed out. I'll go with you if you pay for me, he offered.

Don't do it again, I said.

It was a good time, he said.

Don't do it again, I said.

It's not even dangerous, he said.

Yeah, right. Don't do it again, I said.

This is not a kid who usually does stupid things. When he and his friends were 13, one of them decided he wanted to drive his mother's car. So he sneaked out about midnight on a rainy October night and picked up three other friends. My son was sleeping at the home of two of them and decided to stay behind while the others went joyriding.

The boy who took the car decided going on the expressway would be a real kick. Of course, he lost control of the car and wrapped it around a tree. Police had to extract him from the vehicle. The other three dullards had taken off at a run. They were eventually rounded up.

I got a call a few hours later from one of the parents. The conversation began with: (Your son) was the only one who showed any sense. I inquired what happened and the details spilled out. The mother of the twins said her sons would not see drivers' licenses until they were 17. The kid who took the car also saw his driving rights delayed. The fourth kid is a whole other story.

I asked my son why he didn't go along with the others.

I was afraid of what you'd do to me, he said.

Smart boy. I bought the kid a new bike as a reward.