She won’t classify him as such yet, but to all appearances the teenager has a new boyfriend. Neither my wife and I have met him yet, but somehow both grandmothers have, and both think that he seems like a nice enough guy. Kayla is pretty picky with boys, much to my relief, so even though I’m reserving judgment until I look this kid in the eye, I have to assume that he is.
The problems I have with him, sight unseen, are twofold. Number one, he’s a few years older than she is. Number two, and even worse, he drives.
The age difference problems are easy to explain. The “expectations” of a girlfriend are much different at age eighteen than they are at fifteen, her age. I understand that much has changed in the past twenty five years, none for the better, but I know that at age fifteen a guy is cautiously optimistic and hopeful. At eighteen he thinks that it’s just a matter of waiting an amount of time, determined by the female in question. Like I said, I’ve never met this kid. He could be a fine, upstanding gentleman that completely respects all women and is saving himself for marriage. His friends may all be as morally upstanding and completely supportive of these views.
Possible. But not an assumption that I’m going to be making.
The driving aspect I find even more worrisome. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among 15-20 year olds. In 2012, 71% of these deaths were the passengers.
Teenage males drive like a-holes. Two out of three teens killed in crashes are males. They are even bigger a-holes when they have somebody to show off for. The risk of a teenager being in an accident increases 44% with a passenger. It doubles with two passengers and quadruples with three or more passengers. They are still bigger a-holes with a buzz on. In 18% of fatal teen accidents the driver had a BAC of .8% or higher. In 23%, there was at least some alcohol on board.
I have no doubt that I’d be less apprehensive if my friends and I had been more responsible drivers. We weren’t. We were a-holes. Our record for passing was three school busses and a car. Top speed on a stretch of rural highway was 185. Number of people to fit into a Mercedes was twelve. I was in the trunk. In our defense, we very rarely drove after drinking and were much more responsible if we had girls with us, but overall we were very lucky.
The Graduated Licensing Systems that are in place now make that kind of behavior a little less likely. New drivers are prohibited from driving with other teens for the first six months and are only allowed immediate family under twenty years old for the second six. There is a driving curfew in Connecticut between eleven and five AM until the driver’s eighteenth birthday, with certain strict restrictions for employment or medical necessity.
This kid is already at an age where my friends and I had pretty much settled down. Whether or not that is a good thing remains to be determined. I’m going to try and reserve judgement and not hold against anybody the things that I did at sixteen.
I’m also going to make him come to the door, inspect his eyes, smell his breath, and make sure that he realizes that her curfew is not a “suggestion.”
Can’t wait to meet him.