The Tall Kid is, right this very moment, at the theater seeing Sherlock Holmes. With a friend of his. And no parent. No adult at all.
He’s in the wild.
I dropped them off and he’ll text me when it’s over so I can pick them up. (Okay, I’ll be honest. I walked them inside but only because at fourteen, I wasn’t sure if they’d get hassled about their ages with regard to the PG-13 rating.) And of all the kids on the planet, the friend TK’s with is the one I’d choose for this expedition—he’s a wicked good kid from a very nice family and I’ve known him his entire life.
I have some control issues with my kids. It’s not a secret. Not that they’re always with me, but they’re always in a situation with which I’m comfortable, with adults I trust.
I was sixteen when my friends and I joined the search party for a missing seven-year-old in our small town. You don’t forget looking in trash cans and shuffling through piles of leaves looking for a little boy. And what you never, ever forget is visiting the boy’s mother days after his body was found—she was our school nurse—and feeling that kind of grief. There aren’t even words to describe it. But I’ve seen a little boy’s life—his shoes on the stairs and his pictures on the fridge—with no little boy in it anymore.
“This is a good town, nothing will happen to him here” is not in my vocabulary.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit I tried to sabotage this expedition and rework it in such a way an adult would be available to accompany them, but my husband blocked me at every turn. He’s fourteen, he has a cellphone, and his friend is a junior black-belt. It’s 11:45 in the morning and I walked them to the ticket counter. It’s not like they’re running back alleys at two in the morning.
But, ohmigod, this is hard.
I’m pretty sure it goes downhill from here. Last night, during my frantic efforts to derail my son’s freedom, my husband pointed out he’ll be taking Driver’s Ed in thirteen months.