Jake, 15, skipped school on October 7. Okay, kids do those things. At three o'clock that afternoon, I tried to get him on his cell phone. No answer, no answer. I finally called Jillian, my oldest.
"Have you seen your brother?"
"Well...not since this morning."
"Did you know he skipped school today?"
"I kind of thought he was going to."
"Well, he did! Why didn't you tell me?" I didn't give her time to answer. "What I really want to know is where he is!"
"The last time I saw them they were at our house, I thought maybe they were going to ride the school bus together."
"Yeah, his girlfriend was with him."
Can you say "premature grandmother"?
"What did they do all day?"
"I...ummm...I have no idea."
I drove home like a woman possessed. I walked in the door and there was Jake sitting on one couch and his girlfriend sitting on the other watching television.
"What...in the hell...were you thinking!?" I demanded of Jake.
"I had a field trip, Mom, I didn't want to go today."
"Did it ever occur to you to call me?"
"Jill didn't call you?"
"No! Since when is it her responsibility to call me when you decide to miss school?"
His girlfriend smiled at me for God's sake.
"And I don't know what you're grinnin' at!" I turned on her mercilessly. "You're in big trouble too, missy." I wagged my finger at her, wondering briefly how much I might look like my own mother at that moment. "I happen to know that your mother is frantic! Frankly, I wouldn't want to be you right about now."
"Yes ma'am." Eyes on the floor.
"You get your butt in my truck, I'm driving you home."
"And you." I pointed at Jake. "I'll deal with you later."
That's when he dropped the bombshell.
"I don't know what the big deal is, Jill took us to the mall in Sebring. It's not like we were here by ourselves all day."
"Your sister knew you skipped school...AND took you to the mall?"
"Yeah! It was her idea."
Could this get any worse?
Naturally I called Jill and read her the riot act.
"I'm in big trouble, huh?" She said shakily.
"I'll deal with you when you get home. All I hear from you is that I treat you like a child. Let me tell you something...nobody but a CHILD would think it was okay to not let an adult know that two minors skipped school all day, and then on top of that, drive them to mall thirty miles away! Then lie about it? Yeah, 'you're in trouble huh'."
Jake was on full restriction and his telephone was turned off. His girlfriend got her rear end torn up, was grounded and also lost her phone. I had the same punishment in mind for Jill when she walked in the door at 6:00 p.m.
"You don't drive for a week and your phone will be turned off. If you don't give me any more trouble I may let you drive to school and back. But that's it!"
"No." She said.
"I said no. You can turn the phone off if you want, but I'm driving."
"Not with four flat tires you won't."
"I have news for you. I'm only here to get my clothes. I'm eighteen now, and I'm moving out."
She turned eighteen on October 4. Three days later she's moving out. This has to be a record. I was furious but I was not going to beg her to stay. She was screwing up and I knew it, but I was not going to warn her. She was right. She was eighteen and she had a legal right to move out. Her Jeep was an eighteenth birthday present and it was in her name. I didn't have a legal leg to stand on.
"Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out." I said.
"Aren't you going to ask me where I'm going?"
"Nope. Okay, (yawn) where are you going?"
"I don't know (sniff) I'll probably be living in my Jeep."
"That's your choice."
"If I stay here, you'll ground me."
"Damn right, and if you come back next week, I'll ground you then. If you come back next YEAR, I'll be waiting and I'll ground you then! You were wrong and you know it. You demand to be treated like an adult, but you consistently show piss-poor judgment. This is a classic example. To avoid being punished, you are prepared to walk out the door with no place to go, and not even a nickel in your pocket. That's real maturity Jill."
She looked sick.
"Do what you want to do. If you stay, you're getting the punishment you earned. If you go, you can deal with the big bad world."
On October 7, my baby, eighteen and three days old, left.