Once upon a time, I used to be rather rabid in my defense of civil liberties. I got my rage on when computer cookies started tracking users’ web activity, as if the mere act of going online (almost unavoidable in this day and age) constituted a waiver of one’s right to privacy. When I’d read about schools suspending little kids over what they deemed “distracting” haircuts or “inappropriate expressions” on t-shirts, I railed about free speech and the importance of training youth to value their rights so they protect those of the next generation. Time was when I could go on for hours ranting about the unfairness and repugnance of “no knock search warrants”.
And then I had kids.
If it weren’t for computer cookies, I wouldn’t have known that my then-13 year-old daughter had stumbled into a couple of shady corners of the internet (purely by accident, she swore). When my then-8 year-old son wanted a blue mohawk I skirted the argument by pointing out that his school’s dress code bans such “edgy” looks. And I’ve told both kids that if I suspect they’re up to no good in their bedrooms I’ll barge in when I damn well feel like it. That, I tell them, is the difference between owning property (which I do) and living in it rent-free (which they do). No, they’re not always happy about my views, but them’s the breaks. I’m the Mom, and around here my word is law.
So imagine my surprise when my now 19-year-old daughter came home from college over the weekend and said she wants one of those GPS tracking systems on her car. Well, okay. What she really said was that she wants a GPS, because she’s apparently inherited my inability to get anywhere of import without getting lost. On her last trip home, getting ‘lost’ meant driving around downtown Kansas City around midnight on a Friday. I know first-hand how frightening that can be. (Like I said, she inherited my poor navigational skills.)
I’m more than happy to install a GPS on her car. I’m just going to go her one step better and make sure it has a vehicle tracking option. See, “her” car is one that my husband and I pay for. The title is under our name, and we foot the bill for the insurance. Ergo, like many parents, we feel entitled to set some limits on her driving, such as: no road trips from central Missouri to Chicago and back with five of her closest friends, and certainly no Spring Break trek to and from Florida.
But she swears to me (in the same tone of voice she once used to explain she had never, EVER been to certain websites) that those trips were all taken in someone else’s car, just as she swears she has NO idea why her car has had more engine and tire problems than mine has, even though I’ve owned my three times as long.
What would really seal the deal, though, is if I could find one of those GPS tracking devices that also disables cell phone text messaging while the car is moving… something else she swore to me she’d never do. In a text message. Friday night. About 20 minutes before she pulled into the driveway.