This week is typically the start of the Spring Break for many colleges and schools. And as much as we’d like to think that our kids would never drink and drive… And maybe they aren’t the ones driving! Today, it’s not just alcohol. The drug situation is terrible, but there’s also one more thing, SLEEPINESS! Especially young people tend to function on very little sleep. They think they are invincible! They think they can drive four hours or more when they’ve only had three or four hours of sleep in the last 24-36 hours. Driving tired is just as dangerous!
The number of DUIs is staggering to the non-drinker or occasional drinker who wouldn’t dream of driving under the influence. But ask any first responder and they will tell you just how prevalent it is. And DUI’s happen even with over-the-counter medications or prescription medications. Read those bottles carefully!
Want to know how bad it is? Ask my daughter who spent about 13 years as a paramedic. Then she’d come home and tell me. Let’s just say I’m not a blood and guts person. Body fluids make me want to puke! Yet I’d do anything to support those men and women who are often volunteers. The EMTs have a basic to intermediate level of training. Paramedics undergo much more, and are often the doctors hands in the field!
But when they pull up on an accident and the brains are exposed… Okay, that’s it for me! I don’t want to think about it! Yes, I can tell you all those gory stories that she told me, and I can also tell you about the families that were driving home and hit by a drunk driver. No, I won’t say more because it makes the goriest, scary movies seem like nothing. Why? Because this is real life!
We started a policy with our girls when they were young. Don’t drink and drive. (You may substitute drug for drink.) Don’t get into the car if the driver has been drinking. CALL HOME! I’d rather climb out of bed and pick someone up, than to cope with them being scooped into a body bag. I extended that invitation to their friends.
Oh, there were more than a few times I was called. Amazingly not by my daughters, but by their friends. I’d hand those kids a pillow and and a blanket. No questions asked. Were they wrong for drinking? Yes. I can’t remember one time that anyone was of age. But I figured they were smart enough to call me and not to get into the car. No lectures. I just picked them up. They knew they screwed up. The girls went to my daughters’ rooms and the boys had the living room.
Many a time my husband groaned for he had to go to work the next morning. But he always went with me to bring a car home. Those kids are grown. Not a single one has ever been in trouble. They’ve become good adults.
Tell your children a million times before they start to venture into the real world. Then stay quiet. They will know they’ve screwed up, but they also need to know that home is a safe haven. Just go get them and bring them home.
Did I have repeat offenders? Not really. Want to know who was the worst? The kids who had been raised in very strict households. The ones whose parents never dreamed their darling child would do anything wrong. On the other hand, those raised in households that didn’t seem to care or had parents that drank and drove had children who followed in the parental footsteps. A few of those teens were scraped off the road, and in the instances that I knew, it was usually drugs or drugs combined with alcohol.
As a parent, we walk a fine line. It’s hard to give a teenager freedom to make decisions. Communication is so important, but you can’t wait until they are sixteen or more to talk to them. Talk to them when they are little and keep talking to them. Don’t just tell them no, tell them why! And don’t make it too abstract.
You think you can drink and drive? You think you can handle the alcohol? Well, so do a lot of people, and you know what, some do get lucky. The rest get scraped up off the road, lose their license, lose their car, lose their shot at a good job because of a poor driving record, or worse they live with the fact that they’ve killed someone. Why? Because they lost control of their car. That’s a 4000 pound weapon in the hands of someone who has been drinking!
Our girls knew we had a zero tolerance level for some things. I’m not saying they didn’t drink, I know of several instances when they attended parties with alcohol, because they told me after the fact. But knowing they could call home, I think helped. They also knew our stance on drinking, drugs, and driving.
We had good kids who for the most part had good friends. My youngest had a few friends who weren’t quite as good. And I wasn’t always called because someone was drinking. I know several times I picked up my girls’ friends because they were in a quarrel with a boyfriend and wanted to leave wherever they were. I just picked them up.
Fortunately I never had to cope with a child who abused alcohol or who used drugs. That’s a more serious problem than a teen or young adult who needs a safe ride home. But I’ve had friends who have lost children because of abuse or use. If that is the problem, seek professional help!
I’m only talking about that occasional misstep. The young people who think they can do it, but they can’t. Or they did without thinking. They didn’t realize the punch was spiked. They didn’t really know you could get drunk on the hard root beer or lemonade. It’s only a small amount of alcohol. They didn’t feel the first one or the second one. Then it hit them!
It happens. It’s a lesson learned. But don’t make them pay with their lives, the lives of their friends, or the lives of the family down the road. Let’s keep our family members safe! Let’s keep our roads safe. No lectures. Just go get them!