Abby Sunderland's blog photo
Just when a child is tall enough to go nose-to-nose with an adult, he or she thinks all those (fun) things generally reserved for the over-21 set are there just for the asking. Not content living on the same clock as grown ups, teens lust after things you and I could never afford or might never think of doing.

If you’ve ever raised a kid, you’ll recognize this scenario:

When my son was 16 and we lived in New York, he asked if he could spend winter vacation at someone’s ski condo in Vermont with five or six of his skateboarding friends, all his age.

Let’s see: A 200-mile journey with no fully licensed driver. Unchaperoned.  He would need a credit card or lots of cash for food, rentals, lifts, gear, whatever.  [It was the whatever that I worried about the most.]

I gave this request a full half-second of consideration, looked him in the eye and replied, “No, a thousand times no.”

I’m sure I don’t have to describe the response, but it wasn’t pretty.

Pressed to explain my decision, I mentioned the fact that 1/neither one of us could afford this little junket, 2/none of the boys in the group had full driver’s privileges or any experience driving in Vermont snow, 3/if one got hurt snowboarding, no emergency room would treat him without a parent’s permission, and most of all 4/if I let him travel to another state without an adult, I could be arrested for failure to supervise my child.

He still didn’t get it.

The other boys went and, sure enough, one broke a bone going downhill on a snowboard. One of that boy’s parents had to drop everything and race 200 miles in the dead of winter to get the kid admitted to an ER a full 20 miles from the slopes. Oh well.

Thinking back, I wonder if I would have responded differently had my son said, “No worry, Mom, I’ve raised $3,000 for this trip through tee-shirt sales, corporate sponsorships and donations to my website, AND, two different military rescue units have promised to swoop in, if anything goes wrong.”

You probably see where this is headed.

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Abby Sunderland, the teenaged sailor rescued off the coast of India a few weeks ago. She lost her boat when 30-foot waves pummeled it, leaving the mast standing at a height of 2 inches and the hull full of water. 

To finish this story, click on Read More, below right.