Danni is a really good kid. Thus far, we trust her. She always calls us to let us know where she is, or when she's leaving, or what's going on. She has a job. She's a good big sister. We are very lucky.
I don't think we are particularly over-protective parents. In fact, I often scoff at so-called "helicopter parents." But today, I had to tell her no.
Today my 16 year-old daughter asked her father and me if she could go to Rocky Point, Mexico, with her 17 year-old friend, 17 year-old friend's 18 year-old sister, and her sister's 18 year-old friend. Four teenage girls, alone, 100 miles inside the border of another country. I had to say no.
She is angry. Well, maybe angry isn't quite accurate. She is upset and disappointed. She says it feels like we don't trust her to make good decisions. She doesn't understand that why we had to say no has nothing to do with her or her ability to make decisions, and we told her so.
We have been to Rocky Point before, with friends. The first time, the two older girls and I went with a large group of friends, and shared a rental house on the beach. I forget why Steve didn't come with us. We left the day after Danni finished second grade, so she would have been eight, and Shannon was five. There were five families total, sharing a very large, six-bedroom house. We all had little kids at the time, and it was a lot of fun.
The second time we went, was for Father's Day 6 years ago. Again, we went with a group of friends and shared a rental house on the beach. The dads all went on a deep-sea fishing trip, taking my friend's oldest son, who was probably 12 or 13 at the time, with them. We won't mention how Steve got really seasick. Oops. Aside from that, the kids played on the beach, the moms sat around and drank (well, except me...I was 6 1/2 months pregnant with Kylie), and again, it was fun. Well, the kids and I had fun...not sure about Steve.
Because we have been there before, this isn't a case of "Oh my God, not Mexico!" It isn't that at all. We calmly explained our reasons/fears to her.
There is about 100 miles of land between the U.S/Mexico border and Rocky Point. What's on that land? Absolutely NOTHING. No homes, no stores, no pay phones, nothing. Zilch. It's June, and it's hot. What if your car breaks down on that stretch of road? What if you are stranded in this heat? You have no way to contact anyone...you will get no cell service on your phones in Mexico. You could also easily be attacked by...anyone who happens to drive by.
To me, four pretty teenage girls are an easy and very attractive target for thieves, and I don't even want to think about what else. Someone only taking your money is probably the best-case victim scenario.
This isn't like last weekend when your car battery died and I had to come rescue you from the drive-in movie at midnight with my jumper cables. That was a 15 mile drive. This is a 300 mile drive, to a foreign country.
The police in Mexico are rather corrupt, and not always willing to help Americans. Again, you take the rights you have here for granted.
If one of you gets hurt...maybe stung by a jellyfish in the ocean, or breaks an ankle on the stairs of the hotel...what would you do for medical care?
The list of things that I can see that could go wrong is very long. I called my old friend that we used to go to Rocky Point with, just to make sure I wasn't being overly-cautious. They still go down there quite frequently. I asked her if she would let her son (almost 18) go down there alone with three of his friends. Her answer was unequivocally, no way in hell. She said they don't even let him drive the vehicle inside Mexico when they are down there together, and there's no way she'd ever let him go down there without adults. By the way, this is a girl who used to run away and go to Rocky Point around age 15 or so, with boyfriends, and no adults. Somehow when you're a parent, the perspective is a little different. The irony does not escape her.
She also told me that the last time they were down there, Memorial Day weekend, they were stopped at a drug checkpoint by locals with machine guns. That has never happened to them before. Apparently, that area is having a lot of problems with drug cartels right now. All that just made me more sure that my instincts on this issue are correct.
I told her that I hated to say no. I know she thought we would say yes. I wish I could say yes. I told her that I know she is angry, and disappointed, and not very happy with us right now. You know what? I can live with that. But, my dearest daughter, if I were to give you permission to go, and something were to happen to you? That, I could not live with. How much of a cliche is it to tell your child, "Someday, when you have kids, you'll understand?" But baby, someday, when you have kids, you'll understand.