Kelsea is grounded.  She is not allowed to hang out with her friends for a week.

Why, you may ask?  After all, as I’ve expounded on endlessly, she’s such an awesome person and an amazing teenager.  But she wouldn’t be a perfect teenager if she didn’t screw up sometimes, would she?

That time arrived on Friday night.  At 1:15 in the morning on Friday night, to be exact.  I’m sorry, but at age 14, you CANNOT come home at 1:15 in the morning and not be in trouble (one way or another, and frankly, I prefer this way to the alternate troubles.)

I was supposed to pick her up when I got back from Denver, after going out with some friends after work.  About 6:30, she called me to ask if she could go to the movies with three of her friends.  The movie didn’t start until almost 8:00, which would put her home around 11:00, but one of the other moms was driving, and 11:00 is the shank of the evening for these guys.  Fine by me!

I arrived home around 9:30, and at about 10:00, I texted her to check on her timeline.  Her response?  ‘Still at movies.’  That worked from a timing standpoint – a movie can run about 2 hours these days.  She would be home soon.  I skyped with a friend, watched something on the Bonnet Channel, and at about 11:00, tried to call her.  It went to voicemail – not so good.  OK, I’ll wait a while.  I fell asleep on the couch, since going to bed without her being home was not an option.  When I woke up, it was 12:45 – no call, no text, nothing but silence.

I didn’t know what to think.  Be angry?  Yes.  Be scared?  Absolutely.  I called her Dad, so as to put him into the same state of mind – probably not the best idea, since he and I are in a not-getting-along phase, but I felt it was my parental responsibility to let him know what was up, and I just had to bear up under any accusations of bad parenting.

She still wasn’t answering her phone.  I had no idea where she was.  The movie let out hours ago. 

I remember the only argument I ever had with my own father.  I was about 16, and I had stayed out with my friends, lost track of time, and came home about two hours late without having called (this was before the days of cellphones – we used coconuts and smoke signals back then).  My parents had been frantic.  They had called my friends’ parents.  They had called the hospitals.  They had even called the morgue.  I’m not kidding.  I was so angry that they had so overreacted that I told them I was leaving again.  My calm, peace-loving, gentle dad – the man from whom I got my temper – stood in front of the front door with his arms spread and said, “If you’re going, you’re going to have to go through me.”  I thought about that for a split second, my teenage rage boiling like Vesuvius – then turned on my heel (no doubt with some choice words), stalked off to my room and slammed the door.  For me, there were no other repercussions; like me, my parents did not believe in curfews – they believed in our being committed to our words about when we would be home.  But it certainly never happened again.

Back to the present day.  I figured out that if Kelsea wasn’t answering her phone, one of her friends might, so I called Uber-Cool Will, who quickly handed the phone to Kelsea.  “I’m getting dropped off soon,” she said hurriedly. “We’re dropping off Will first.”  Where had they been?  “At dinner at Old Chicago.”  And she didn’t think to call.  She lost track of time.  She had her phone turned off since she’d been at the movies.  Hmmm. 

Ex-Pat called one of her other friends right around the time she and I hung up, so she knew she was in deep.  I was furious by the time she got home – 1:15. 

“Am I in trouble?, she asked, standing in my bedroom door.  ”
Yup,” I replied. 
“What are you going to do?”
“You’re grounded.”
“REALLY?”  She sounded so incredibly pleased. “I’ve never been grounded!”

This punishment wasn’t turning out exactly the way I had imagined.  She’s always been so good, I think she was excited to feel like a “bad” teenager.

“Is this the worst thing I’ve ever done?”
“I think so.”
“Wow!”  She smiled broadly.

What the heck.  That’s tough to parent.  She was extremely apologetic, and clearly understands the worry she caused us.  She wasn’t defensive or combative.  And I know she’s not going to show up on an episode of  “16 and Pregnant”.  Had I been the mother who was driving, things would have been very different. There’s no way I would let kids stay out that late without being sure everyone had contacted their parents – and I don’t think I’d even consider allowing kids to stay out that late anyway.  But I wasn’t in her shoes at the time.

So Kelsea is grounded for a week.  Meaning she can’t hang out with her friends except at school.  She just gets to hang out with me.  Poor thing.  Fortunately for her, the week’s punishment ends in time for the season opening of Elitch Gardens, Denver’s equivalent of Six Flags, which she and her friends have been looking forward to for months.  If I were a stricter, tougher mom, I would ban her from attending.  But I think she’s learned what not to do.  I trust so.

I really, really hope so.