My First Car - A Lesson in Good Parenting

My parents did a clever thing to me when I was a teenager as a parenting technique.  Even though I had part-time job as a cook at Kentucky Fried Chicken (wasn't called KFC back then), they would not let me buy a car (what I really wanted was an IROC-Z).  Instead, they provided me with a car, paid for the insurance, and held the car hostage.  If I did anything wrong, thought about doing something wrong, or even looked like I was about to do something wrong, it was "do you want me to take the car away", or "do that one more time, and you'll be walking".  And it wasn't that the car was anything special.  It was a hand-me-down 1965 Chevy Corvair.  1965 CorvairIt did not have air conditioning, it did not have shoulder belts, and you had to keep the window cracked in the winter time or you would die of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Although that car might be pretty cool in 2016, it was not really anything special back in 1988.  But to me, it meant freedom.

I needed that car to get to work, to take my girlfriend to the movies, and to leave the school at lunch time.  And because I knew my parents meant business when they said they would take it away, I had to be pretty sneaky when I was up to no good.  In fact, there were several Friday night parties that I skipped for fear my folks would smell alcohol on my breath.  And I was very cognizant of my curfew, making sure to that all mischievous adventures took place before the bell tolled.

Although it might sound as if my parent's parenting tactic was a failure, in hindsight, it was actually pretty effective.  There were really a number of things I avoided for fear of losing the car.  For example, there was the time I left one of Sean Garrison's parties early to make curfew, only to hear the next day that Brad Cherry triggered the silent alarm by accident about 2 hours later and the police showed up.  Those who couldn't run fast enough intended up having their parent's called to pick them up.  Then there were was the time that attendees of one of Jeff Prescott's champagne breakfasts got busted for being drunk during 1st hour (and most of 2nd hour).  Thankfully I skipped that particular breakfast.

So although it was not as effective a parenting technique as my folks thought it was, it worked on me.  Anytime I found myself in a situation that I knew was bad, the thought of losing the car was always in the back of my mind.  Now it is years later, and my 14 year old son begins his driving lessons this summer.  And I have every intention of using the same auto-hostage tactic with him.