The New Year's Child

It's been said that simply having children doesn't make one a mother.  Sometimes the mothering is done in the presence of one's own children but not necessarily towards them.

When Mr. Gaelic and I decided to allow Deirdre to host a New Year's Eve party at our house while we were at another party, we had our reservations.  But we wanted to give her the opportunity to show us how much she's matured over the last year.  Or to fail miserably and learn from her mistakes. 

After the talent show at the other party, Mr. G and I headed back to our house.  Suspicion was high when we heard Maeve in the back seat speaking into her cupped hand holding her cell phone, telling whomever was on the other end that we were on the way home and were presently at the corner of Such-and-such Street and This-and-that Road.

Instead of changing into casual clothes and walking down the street to watch the fireworks, we camped out in our bedroom and watched to see if anyone was going outside for anything illicit.  Sure enough, there were four boys in the garage, smoking cigarettes and climbing on Mr. G's motorcycle.  At 6'5", when he moseyed outside and told the boy to get off the bike, the cigarettes went out faster than the boy got his leg over the seat.  The high school kids don't call Mr. G the Terminator for nothing.

While Mr. G was doing the tough dad thing, I was on my knees in front of another boy who had made the mistake of going to another teen party which had been busted up earlier.  He somehow made his way to Deirdre's party.  Already intoxicated.  Three-sheets-to-the-wind intoxicated.  Deirdre sat beside him while I asked him if he knew who I was.  "You're Didi's mom."  I asked if he knew where he was.  "At Didi's."

"Can you drink something?"


"Take these two Tylenol and drink this water."

When another boy's mother showed up to drive her son and the intoxicated boy home, it was imperative that she knew what had happened.  Although my thoughts were the same as hers, I didn't voice them.  "You really messed up," wasn't something that he needed to hear right then.  With a hangover, he'd know it.  And he can always be told later, when he might actually remember hearing it.

Dierdre did an okay job for hosting her first party.  She could have done better.  She also could have done much worse.  Mr. G and I debriefed her after everyone had left and told her as much.  She acknowledged that and apologized profusely for not being able to stop the intoxicated boy from showing up and for not being able to stop the boys in the garage from smoking.

The lesson she learned was that, even though we don't approve of certain activities by teenagers, we're not going to berate them or throw them out when they are in need of a caring adult.  Her thanks to us for helping with the intoxicated boy were sincere. 

My lesson came when she told me during the debriefing that the intoxicated boy was the same one who was in the hospital two weeks prior from attempted suicide.  His parents had abandoned him and both blamed him for their problems.  My lesson was that I must parent any child in need.  Not just the ones that I birthed.


  1. It's so hard looking after young people entering adulthood.

    I've been through it many a time myself, this scene you describe. I try not to judge. I simply remember my own wayward youth, inspired no doubt by my own difficulties in childhood and adolescence, only i was so much older than my children when I went off the rails, for a little while at least.

    My heart bleeds for this troubled 'parentless' boy.

    Our children learn best by the examples we as parents provide and through their own experience.

    Happy New Year to you.

  2. Just happy there are still people like you in the world.

  3. That's a fine lesson.

    My guess is that boy will have lasting damage from this season of sorrow for him. To feel like your parents do not care for you is really to be alone in the world.

  4. Thanks for this wonderful post. I think you handled it all very well. I felt a pang of heartache reading the last paragraph. Sadly this is more and more a common occurrence in life in general. The broken homes, the suicides, the lack of familial nurturing.
    We worry so much about our oldest daughter and pray that she makes all the right choices. She just now is going out on her own excursions and it is hard to watch her walk out the door not knowing what she is doing with all her friends. But I guess that's all part of it.
    I hope you, your children and Mr. G. have a wonderful new year.

  5. I am intensely grateful that mine never took that opportunity by themselves, as my rotating 12 hr shift schedule could have afforded the opportunity. :-) But they were necessarily mature and never stepped over the line. I never had the time to supervise or not, such a high water mark in their lives. They had to wait until they matured in age and went off to University. :-)

  6. When I moved to LA in the 60s, I came from an old fashioned environment where parents were the boss and there were almost never parties without the parents ensconced firmly in the kitchen. As I found a house and began to have parties, I was astounded at the number of kids 16 and younger who seemed to be living as they wished, and who were able to show up every night without, so far as I could see, going home at all. There are so many shitty parents out there, and I am glad you were nice to this boy. Yelling at him would have accomplished nothing, and kindness might just have done so. I hope he finds his feet. You are right - the good parents seem to end up parenting the whole gang sometimes. Somebody has to do it. If it isn't you, it might well be somone with a nasty ulterior motive. Good for you.

  7. Although I don't have teenagers or children in my life, I have other people, and a person, although maybe not concious of it, has the option to walk away or stand beside. We can say say this is what I've learned, this is how I can help or I'll let you help me. Here's to all the moments we stand beside, and offer and allow help.

  8. Sounds to me like Deirdre knows a little bit about parenting, too, or else she wouldn't have risked getting in trouble herself for some shit-faced little ol' boy. Probably had good teachers.

  9. Bless you. I don't know that I wouldn't have blown that one.