Should Us Parents “Keep the Meter Running”?

driving the ungrateful teenThis falls into the category of “what would you have done?”, so we can set the stage. Here’s what happened, and here’s how I dealt with it:

Last night my youngest, almost 15, wanted to go to an evening event with her pal, an event that ran 8-10pm. No worries, I knew the group performing and the venue was a church, so I figured it was safe and appropriately wholesome, etc. I had a party invitation for the evening so the timing actually worked out great: I could drop them off, head to my party for a few hours, then pick them up at an agreed upon time in front of the venue.

Seems reasonable, right?

When I dropped them off at about 7.30pm, I said I’d be back at 10pm to get them. My daughter said she wanted to hang out and chat with other people at the event, could I show up a bit later. Okay. We agreed on 10.20, which would be added to the 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the event as a reasonable total amount of social time.

Teen parents already know what’s going to happen next, I bet.

I showed up at 10.20 sharp and sat there. And sat there. At 10.30 I had watched lots of people leave the church and head to their vehicles, but there was still no sign of my daughter and her friend.

10.35. Nothing.

10.40 I finally decided to go in and see what was going on, just to find the two of them sitting and not actually interacting with anyone. “Okay, time to go please!” They balked, saying they were waiting to say goodbye to people.

uber driver, waiting for pickup

Instead of just getting cranky – though I was pretty testy at that point – I said that they had five minutes and that 10.45 was the departure time, no negotiating. Rather than show any appreciation, my girl made some snide comment asking me to wait outside rather than in the foyer of the building with them.

Fine. Whatever. I headed out but didn’t get in the car; I felt it was inevitable that I would end up going in again to get them when the designated time rolled around. To my surprise, however, at 10.45 they were walking out as I opened the door to go in and get them.

Here’s the classic teen / most annoying part: No thank you, no appreciation for me sitting there for 30 minutes past our agreed-upon pickup time, just a very overt “silent treatment” from my daughter for the entire ride home, followed by her stomping up into her room and making it very clear she was unhappy.

I think I was not only a kind and flexible parent by waiting far past our agreed-upon time, but that I am owed a thank you for being willing to act as basically the Lyft driver for the evening. And without even getting much of anything in return. I will note that the other girl was polite and did show some gratitude for my being chauffeur for the evening. But my girl? Nothing. Just the cold shoulder.

So, what should I have done when they weren’t ready to leave at our agreed upon time? What should I say/do at this point, or perhaps better, the next time she asks me to drive her somewhere in a similar situation?

One comment on “Should Us Parents “Keep the Meter Running”?

  1. I dread these future moments (my daughter is 6, and my oldest is 12). I can’t say how “teenage years” will wear on me, but would a “give and take” scenario work here? Maybe “If you’re late, the response is whatever”? Good luck, Dave.

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