I have a confession to make. I’m a stalker. No, I don’t peek in windows of celebrities or anything. I just stalk my kids. Not on social media or anything embarrassing like that…IRL. (In real life…for you un-hip parents out there.) No, that’s not right, either. I don’t drive around trailing after them with their friends or walk ten paces behind them at the mall—I’m not a nut job Helicopter Parent. But I do track them with the Find My Friends App and I’ll tell you why.
Parenting is Nerve Wracking
Remember last year when my son got his permit and I didn’t think anything could possibly be more nerve wracking than sitting in the passenger seat clutching the “oh $hit bar” while my teen drove? Guess what? I was wrong!
He got his license last week, and it turns out that letting them drive off completely on their own with no responsible adult in sight is the most nerve wracking day of your parenting life. (That is, of course, the most nerve wracking, right of passage, normal parenting life—I’m not talking about the day they take a nosedive down the staircase and break their arm or the day they faceplant into the window sill and cut their chin open.)
I swear, sending them off to kindergarten or a sleep over at a friend’s house is absolutely a walk in the park compared to the day your teen takes the car keys and drives off to God knows where. On their own. Without anyone to guide them. No one to help them make good choices. Without anyone to yell if they drive too fast or change lanes without looking in their rear-view mirror.
Hence, the stalking.
Stop Shaking your Head at Me
I know, I know. Some of you out there are shaking your head. Some of you think I’m overreacting…as usual. I bet you have younger kids. Or no kids. For those of you with younger kids, I’m sure you can imagine the terrifying feeling that you would get in the pit of your stomach the day your tiny baby is big enough to drive, but you don’t think it’s that big a deal. I assure you, you are wrong.
Remember the first time you brought your baby home from the hospital and you panicked every time the car hit a bump? Or when another car sped by at a lightening speed? And then when you finally got that precious baby in the house and stared at him or her because you had no clue what you were doing??? Remember that feeling of “oh my God why did the hospital let us take this baby home”???? Yeah, multiply that feeling times a hundred and you might understand how I felt watching my firstborn drive off on his own. I seriously dry heaved in the bathroom after he drove away. (I probably would have thrown up if I had been able to stomach any food that morning.)
So can you really blame me when I checked my phone five minutes later to make sure he was en route to his destination? Then again ten minutes after that to assure he got there? And then every twenty minutes later so I knew what time he would be leaving to drive again? Or when I cyber followed him all over town, nudging my Hubby and asking, “what the hell is he doing there?” and “how did he get on the other side of town so quickly?”
Side Note: This Doesn’t Just Affect Moms
I think Hubby would have liked everyone to think he was the more chill parent about this whole driving thing, but I caught him checking his own app several times during the day and making the same pained faces at his phone as I was making. I could see the wheels turning in his head as we wondered who our kid was with and what he was doing. At least we didn’t have to wonder where he was. We could see that.
So I’d like to think this “stalking” helps ease my parental anxiety a bit. Although it does open up our imaginations as we are forced to make up stories in our heads about what he could possibly be doing based on his location. Because we definitely don’t want to text him to ask him what he’s doing. That would be weird. We would look like stalker parents or something.