Monday, January 24, 2011

The inquisition, Mom-style.

Surrendering to Motherhood
Jennifer Huffman
Napa Valley Register
Monday, January 24, 2011

Moms are part parent, part private investigator. We always have to be a just a little suspicious. We have to consider all the angles and possibilities. We have to be skeptical. It’s our job.

Recently one Huffman girl got invited to a sleepover. As a parent of a teenager, I’ve discovered that meeting the parents of my teen’s high school friends isn’t as easy as when they were in elementary or middle school. So when the invitation came (via text message, which is so 2011), the first thing I did was ask my daughter for the phone number of the mom hosting the sleepover.

I know the mom by name, but we’d never met face-to-face or talked on the phone. Now this mom is probably a Perfectly Normal Mom like the rest of us. She’s likely not an axe murderer or sociopath. But I had to make sure. So I called Mrs. Sleepover and left her a message.

I tried to play it cool. This is what I said:

“Um, yeah, hi this is Mrs. Huffman, and I heard that you invited some girls over for a sleepover. Is that correct? Just checking, ha, ha, you know how these girls can be, making up plans without us actually knowing about it, ha ha! I was wondering who’s going to be at the sleepover, what time we should drop off, that sort of thing. OK, thanks, give me a call!”

Sounds pretty reasonable, right? This is what I really wanted to say:

“So you’re hosting a sleepover, huh? And exactly which responsible adult is going to be at home during this sleepover? Are you the kind of parent that thinks you can just disappear into your bedroom and leave 15 teenage girls on their own for a few hours? And what about boys? Are there any boys living at the home? Any teenage boys? Will they be invited to this so-called party as well? Do you have guns in the home? Any weapons, sharp knives or large axes on display?”

My imaginary inquisition continued.

“How about alcohol? Like to gamble? Bet on the ponies? Buy lottery tickets?”

“What’s your day job? Do you work for a Mafia boss? Hang out with methamphetamine makers? Like to grow marijuana in the attic?

“What kind of neighborhood do you live in? Any drive-by shootings lately? Any carjackings, Peeping Toms or kids throwing rocks at windows? Do you give out ‘good’ candy at Halloween?”

Part of the plan for the sleepover involved travel to a fundraising party/event at the high school. Sound harmless enough, right? Oh no, it only kicked my imagination into overdrive.

Who would be driving the girls to the school? What kind of driving record do they have? Ever gotten a DUI? Ever caused a car crash or run a red light? Jaywalked?

And what about this so-called fundraiser? Where is it at and who’s running this show? What exactly would the kids be doing and did it involve turning off the lights at any point? Would backpacks be searched? Drug-sniffing dogs on duty? Breathalyzer tests for teen drivers attempting to leave the party early?

While we are at it, who else is going to this sleepover? The kind of girls who have great ideas like “Let’s sneak out of the bedroom window and run down Jefferson Street at 2 a.m.?” or “Hey, how about a big drink of that peppermint schnapps in your parent’s liquor cabinet?” Inquisition Mom needs to know.

About the time I was wondering about fingerprinting and credit checks, Mrs. Sleepover returned my phone call. Before I could say anything, she gave me the complete run-down.

Just so you know, she said, this is strictly a girls-only sleepover. No boys will be at the house. And my husband and I will do all the driving to the school. We don’t want any teen drivers driving any of the other teens. And we will be home all night and be checking on the girls regularly so that everyone is behaving. We are very careful about our daughter and her friends, she said.

Yes, yes, of course, I said. I never thought anything else.

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