It begged the question to my own kids- who are YOU in situations involving risks, dares, and/or acts of stupidity?
We like to throw parties.
Not just parties, but “epically fun” parties involving lots of teens (sometimes 50-80 kids). Most people think we’re crazy for doing it. We like to say “yes” to entertaining and sharing our safe space whenever we can.
The truth is, we typically have respect, courtesy, helpfulness, and TONS of gratitude from our young guests. By the night’s end, I’m tired but really fulfilled and renewed. I honestly enjoy our teen guests and who they are becoming.
However, this last party ended differently.
It could have ended fatally. Thankfully, there’s just film and footprints for evidence this time.
A rainstorm popped up that afternoon, threatening our plan to host another epic bonfire (think “2-3 stories of wild flames”). Unpredictable showers weren’t going to snuff out our fun.
We shifted a few things under cover as guests were arriving and rolled with the rainclouds. Start time was 7 pm. Many arrived prior as we were still setting up (again, roll with it).
My daughters, my husband, and I were all greeting guests and finishing up last-minute prep when a group of teens gathered by our inground pool and encouraged a guest to run across the solar blanket (think “heavy bubble wrap”) that covered the water.
The guest attempted, failed, and needed to be pulled out by another guest before getting overwhelmingly tangled in the cover.
It was filmed. It was posted on social media. There was cheering and laughing even as the guest fell, struggled to get across, and needed to be assisted out. There was no apparent concern for the risk of injury, the disrespect to hosts, nor damage of property.
It wasn’t until almost the party’s end that I learned of the stunt. And in the morning, I saw the video. I was hot. I was hurt, confused, disappointed, and then… grateful.
After all, no one died. The guest could have hit the side of the pool or could have been irretrievably wrapped in the plastic cover (as could the guest who assisted) and drowned.
Still, simply being grateful that the consequences weren’t dire didn’t negate my heart’s dismay at the behavior of kids whom I had thought had better character and judgment. I had to choose who I wanted to be, and I chose to forgive. But I also chose to inform and enforce consequences. Forgiveness and ignorance aren’t synonymous.
Are you the:
It begged the question to my own kids – who are YOU in situations involving risks, dares, and/or acts of stupidity?
- Leader (who speaks up either to stop the action or eggs pranks on)
- Bystander (who has an opinion but just silently sees how the situation plays out)
- Participant (who carries out the dare)
- Responder (who either laughs and cheers while it goes down or who rescues when the stunt goes sideways)
- Documentarian (who films the incident for laughs or for proof that it actually happened)
- Promoter (who posts about the incident regardless of the consequences)
And maybe after choosing which is their current role, who might you choose to be next time? There’s always a next time.
As parents, who likely weren’t even there, who are you?
- Do you chat with your own kid whether they were involved or not?
- Do you course-correct with consequences if your child was involved?
- Are you the one who waves incidents off without a word or consequence because “it was just a prank – kids will be kids?”
What is your role?
For the record, I was a kid once, too, and I’m still a Shenanigator – opting for silly jokes and pranks that bring joy every now and again. But I run them through a “destructo-meter” beforehand in my mind.
- Will it cause damage to body, property, or emotion?
- Is it disrespectful, illegal, or hateful?
- Am I willing to face any unexpected consequences for this shenanigan?