Life definitely gets easier as your children grow up. You get to sleep again, go out again, enjoy free time again, but letting them go also has its drawbacks. When you release them from the nest and the clutches of your taloned feet, it means that they are free to make their own decisions, and sadly, sometimes those decisions are misguided.
I will hold up my hand and admit to you that I am that parent that sends links to Kurt of stories of kids that have overdosed on drugs. Worse, I attach subtle comments, like ‘Don’t make me this mum.’
And that’s why I feel so devastated for the parents of the young girl who was involved in a scooter accident and died in Bali this week. Because as parents of adult kids, we’ve all had sleepless nights and those ‘what if’ moments when our children don’t come home on time or don’t call when they say they will, and in the end you realise that the only way you move forward is to take the fatalist’s view of ‘what will be, will be.’
Anyone who has visited Bali will know that the scooter is the main form of transport over there. Until you’ve witnessed the horror of whole families, (as well as extended family members with groceries), perched on the back of ONE scooter, you’ve never really experienced Asia. Safety helmets don’t seem to rate highly, either.
It’s the same in other poor Asian countries because the scooter is one of the cheapest modes of transport and add in infrastructure limitations and over-population problems, it makes sense for the locals. Less so for tourists. Certain statistics suggest that one Australian tourist dies on a scooter in Bali every nine days, which is f..cked up when all they are trying to do is embrace the culture.
For the over-anxious, among whom I am a master, ‘never get on a motorbike’ is up there with ‘don’t ever wear dirty undies’ (in case you get in an accident), ‘don’t lie on your CV’ and ‘never take pills at festivals’ on my ‘Non-Negotiable Things I Have Taught My Kids Not To Do’ list, something I have rammed down their throats since I first allowed them to leave the house by themselves at sixteen.
I’m not naive to think that they will adhere to these recommendations, of course, but I hope that the threatening sound of my voice in their head at that ‘shall I or shan’t I’ moment might make them think twice.
The point is, when we’re not fully informed about the culture of a country, as much as it might be tempting to embrace all facets of its identity, sometimes it’s best to leave TF alone – like you do in countries where they serve delicacies such as fried tarantulas and cockroaches. And I know that goes against the grain of just about everything I said in my recent post here, about overriding fear and doing what you love – so sue me – I’m a woman and can be fickle whenever the fuck I want.
Coincidentally, I’m currently experiencing those early, nail-biting days of Kurt’s first month on the streets on his P plates. Unlike when NC first passed her driving test – when I’ve no doubt she was nudged at the lights a few times for slow starts, perhaps even pulled over for driving under the speed limit – I’ve noticed that the male approach to driving is very different. Their testosterone levels seem to put them back in the Land That Time Forgot and they become the hunter on the road and any brain development that should have taken place over the last however many centuries is temporarily lost.
I suspect that a decade worth of indoctrination from Jeremy Clarkson and his arrogant machismo has not helped either and that Kurt secretly believes he is the Stig.
Each time he takes the car and it is not returned to the front of the house within minutes of his anticipated arrival, I pace the hallway, imagining the worst. Last night, as I waited behind the front door for what I believed would be an inevitable knock from the police bringing bad news, in desperation, I texted his friend to see if he was with him – one of the most shaming acts the helicopter parent can resort to.
‘MOMMMMMM!’ Kurt said when he called me back immediately afterwards, and I could almost feel the heat from his cheeks down the phone line.
‘Well, answer your bloody phone next time!’ I responded, ‘AND NOT WHEN YOU’RE DRIVING!’