Senior Week: A Parent’s Letter
To My Child, I am letting you go to Senior Week, but that doesn’t mean I won’t worry. I know you want me to start treating you like an adult by giving you some space and some trust. But I also know that sometimes people your age think that nothing can ever happen to them; they don’t really think about some of the risks they are taking and how the consequences can haunt them forever. I love you and don’t want to lose you. I don’t want to be one of those parents who get the nightmare call in the middle of the night from the police, the hospital, or G-d forbid, the morgue.
So, here are my Senior Week Commandments. Please read them, take them seriously, and come home to me safely.
1. Always have someone with you, even if it’s just a quick walk to the store. You will probably meet new people, but do not get into cars or go off alone with people you don’t know.
2. Always keep your drink, of any kind, with you. Don’t ever leave your drink unattended. If you ever do, get a new one. Don’t take the chance that while your back is turned, someone may slip something into your drink.
3. If someone you are with “passes out,” do not just leave the person to sleep it off. Sometimes a black-out or stupor induced by alcohol or another drug can be life threatening. You may be saving a life if you let someone else know what’s going on.
4. Do not, for any reason, take someone else’s prescription medication or mix any medication with alcohol. Besides decreasing your ability to make healthy decisions, it could kill you.
5. Drinking alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal. The police will suspend your license. And, the police will not be fooled by someone drinking beer out of a soda cup. The fine for this offense is $500 plus a court date in the fall. Using a fake ID or altering a real ID can lead to 12 points on a driver’s license (almost enough to have your license revoked).
6. Make sure your purse, money, iPod, camera or anything valuable is in a safe place in your room. You can’t keep track of everybody who comes to your room, and not everyone, even people you know, can be trusted. Also, if you let more than the registered number of people stay in your room, you could be evicted and possibly lose your security deposit.
7. Be safe when going from one place to another. Don’t take chances crossing those crazy high traffic streets. The bus is free. Use it! If you absolutely must ride in someone’s car, make sure you wear your seatbelt and ABSOLUTELY NEVER get into a car with someone who has been drinking.
8. ABSOLUTELY NEVER go swimming while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug. Don’t swim alone and don’t swim at night.
9. It is even illegal to ride a bike when you’ve been drinking. You’ll be charged with the same offense (DWI, DUI) as if you were driving a car.
10. If you are 18, the police can charge you as an adult, which means that you will have a criminal record. The police do not call parents to come and get you.
11. People do stupid things when they are “in the moment,” like “hook up” with people they don’t really know or other things that put them at risk for getting hurt. Think about the consequences of what you’re doing and the possibility that you will have to live with those kinds of regrets for the rest of your life.
12. Please remember to keep in touch with us regularly. For us, “out of sight is definitely NOT out of mind.” A brief phone call or text message reassures us that you are okay.
You may be rolling your eyes by now. I just hope you understand that I want you to have fun, but as your parent, I am going to worry and I want to help you stay safe. After all, that’s my job!
Your Parent (who loves you very much)
By Susan Kurlander, M.Ed., and Robin Sweeney, Health Educators, Prevention Education, and Jacki Post Ashkin, LCSW-C, Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD.
Acknowledgment to the Ocean City Police Department for some material.