Children & Drunk Drivers

Children deserve a designated driver. ("MADD - Mother's Against Drunk Driver's")

A fun day at the lake.

Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. mom yells out, “If you’re going to the lake with me you’d better get up and get ready. I’m leaving in 45 minutes.”

Cool. We’re off for a day of fun with swimming, a picnic of roasted hot dogs, drinking sodas and playing on the beach.

It always started out the same way. And each time we wouldn’t think about the ride home until we got into the car and good old “step dad from hell” would stagger to the car and collapse into the driver’s seat. Children have a built in barometer that warns them of danger, and we knew what this meant.  We were in for another terrifying ride at high speed while swerving across yellow lines with screeching tires on the winding mountain road, while he pummeled our mother for begging him to slow down. We kids were in the back, frozen in dead silence and paralyzed with fear. Is he going to go off the cliff? Is he going to drive head on into oncoming traffic? Am I going to die this time? 

For the grace of God. Somehow we all survived.

The designated driver.

Yes, the boys were always eager to caddie for Grandpa. 18 holes of golf was great fun, but it was the 19th hole that was the deal breaker. After several hours in the clubhouse, Grandpa knew he’d had too much to drink.  So, he would turn the car over to his oldest grandson (who was 13 at the time) and have him drive home. The trip included several miles on a two lane highway, followed by a mile through city traffic. What could possibly go wrong?  Luckily, nothing serious ever did. 

But then there was the 2 a.m. call from the hospital. Seems Grandpa didn’t have a designated child to drive him home that time and he had a serious car accident. The doctors said since he was so inebriated and limber he didn’t resist the impact. He totaled the car but only received a few minor scratches and bruises. He’d lost control of the car and fortunately no other car or innocent people were hurt.

Lessons learned.

What children think of their caregivers really does matter.  Regardless of how much kids complain, they want boundaries. Respect and admiration from the children in your life is earned. They want caregivers who are responsible and in control. It makes them feel valued and loved.  Children are not equipped to take care of adults. The irresponsible actions of adults and the resultant trauma inflicted on children can cause problems that accompany those children long beyond childhood. When you have no say or control over events that endanger you, the resultant traumatic emotions will linger long after you are grown. A perceived threat experienced as an adult can trigger familiar life and death fears from early childhood and cause a person to overreact.  Childhood experiences lead to adult sized problems.

Don’t drink and drive.

Don’t drink and ask a child to drive.



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