Age 14/15 – Testing the Waters
I like to refer to my 14th and 15th years as the “dirt” years, because I was always grounded. It was during this period that I really started to test the waters. Meaning, I gave my parents a run for their money. I wasn’t a terrible teenager, I knew girls who were much worse than me. I just liked to see what I could get away with, which, it turned out, was not much.
That being said, I remember one particular evening that started out as an innocent sleepover in the basement of one of my friend’s house. Another girl (let’s say Lisa) and I were invited to stay over. Karen’s parents must have a lot of trust in their daughter, because they allowed us to stay in her finished basement that had sliding glass doors – to the outside.
It turned out that those sliding glass doors were too much of a temptation. We tried to keep busy by watching some late night television, but those darn doors were calling our names. About a mile away from Karen’s house were condominium units that housed Lisa’s boyfriend. She got the great idea that we should all take a walk over to see him. Being silly 14 year olds, we all thought it was a great idea. I mean, it was better than watching reruns of the “I Love Lucy” show. So, we put on our shoes and started the trek through town. We got about half way there when we were stopped by a police cruiser. I didn’t really understand what was wrong with what we were doing. It was only about midnight, the street lights were on, and no one else was out, so it was totally safe…wasn’t it? Anyway, he asked the three of us to get into the car, we were going “down to the station.” I had a complete and total meltdown. I was being arrested. I was 14 years old and my life was over. When we got to the station, the police officer started writing something on a white card. I asked him what he was doing and he replied that he was filling out my JD card. Oh no, I was going to be classified as a Juvenile Delinquent! My record was going to be marred! I’d never get into college; I’d never be able to get a job. Now I knew my life was over. Of course, the nice officer was just trying to scare the you-know-what out of me and he was succeeding. Next, I had to deal with mom and dad. That didn’t go over too well. I think I was grounded for a year.
During my 15th year, I was grounded for having a bad report card. During this period of “groundage”, I received an invitation to attend a sleepover party. I begged and begged my mom to just let me go to this one party and I’ll never ask to do anything else again, but she wouldn’t lift the punishment (she was so mean…when I grew up, I was going to let MY daughter do whatever she wanted – stay out late till all hours of the night, go to any party she wanted, chaperoned or not, ride in cars with boys. What was the big deal???). I absolutely had to go and no one was going to stop me. So, I wrote a nice “run-away” letter to my parents that described to them that I was not going to go to that party, but I was going to go away to “think and be alone”. It’s makes me blush when I think of it. It’s funny to imagine my pre-teen daughter pulling that one in a couple of years. She’s not that naïve.
When I got off the bus on that fine Friday afternoon, I packed an overnight bag and walked to my best friend’s house who lived about a mile away. I remember sneaking into her room via her bedroom window and took refuge in her closet until it was time to go. Luckily, we were able to persuade the birthday girl’s mother to pick us up there. That poor unsuspecting woman had no idea that she was an accomplice to a run-away. After what seemed like hours, I climbed out of my hiding spot and out the window I went.
The evening started out very uneventful, until we went to the roller rink for a little skating. There I saw my brother Eddie who promptly informed me that mom and dad were worried sick and reported me missing to the cops. He proceeded to tell me that they had every police officer in town knocking on every door that evening looking for me. He was either a great actor or I was as naive as they come – I tend to think the latter. My night was ruined. Just like that. I looked over my shoulder every 5 minutes. At this point, my friend’s mom knew that I was a run-away but kept up the charade until morning. Going home that next day was not fun. My dad took the door off my bedroom and it remained that way for months. I couldn’t go anywhere for what seemed like years. I never ran away again, but I did continue to “test the waters.” I recall being grounded more times than not. It was a joke among my friends. Would I ever learn? Nah, it was way too much fun.