Saturday, June 12, 2010

Just Stay Home. Do Your Homework.

What's with this new parenting trend: letting your 16-year-old child sail around the world alone in a sailboat? Another teenaged girl, Abby Sunderland, was just rescued, at some risk by a French fishing boat in the Indian Ocean, in heavy seas and after losing her boat's mast.
French authorities called it a ''delicate operation'' and at one point the fishing boat's captain fell into the ocean. ''He was fished out in difficult conditions'' and is in good health, said a statement from the French territory of Reunion Island.
I know 16 can be a difficult age, but I'd send my daughter off to convent school before I'd let her get into a sailboat alone. It's probably a good thing I don't have children. I'd be one of those parents Abby's father was complaining about in the Times article:
''I never questioned my decision in letting her go,'' he told reporters Friday. ''In this day and age we get overprotective with our children. If you want to look at statistics, look at how many teenagers die in cars every year. Should we let teenagers drive cars? I think it'd be silly if we didn't.''
Actually, I never thought that letting teenagers drive was such a great idea. I was barely allowed to cross busy streets when I was 16. And most teenagers die in cars driven by other teenagers, so I might let my kid get into a sailboat, where brave French fisherman can rescue her, before I'd let her be driven anywhere by another teen. Especially late at night or early in the morning, when most crashes occur.

But I'm sure that if we let all of our teenagers try to go around the world alone in sailboats, there'd be fewer teenage highway deaths, too.

It seems that the Sunderlands' older son did manage to sail around the world when he was Abby's age. He was the youngest circumnavigating sailor for about a month, until some other underprotected child grabbed the record. I think I read somewhere that that Sunderlands have about six kids, so is that enough to make one or two expendable in the name of a world record? Is this possibly a response to the escalating cost of college tuition? Surely not....

I honestly think this round-the-world gig is just a clever way for a kid to avoid about a year of homework and chores. And get publicity on the side. Nice try, Abby. And you, my Imaginary Child? You're staying home.

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