So I get it. You just turned sixteen and you got a driver’s permit. Congratulations!
And in Ontario, the provincial government just instituted a new law that states that anyone under age 22 caught driving with **any** alcohol in their system will face fines, license suspension, and charges. They can avoid license suspension if they agree to having a breathalyzer thingummy that doesn’t let you start your car if you’ve any booze in your system (or, interestingly, if you’re diabetic, in some cases). I get that you feel that’s unfair.
I mean, far be it for me to trot out statistics, but I’m going to anyway…but I won’t use numbers. Because I’m on vacation and numbers are made of work. The fact is that folks under 22 make up a minority of drivers, but a rather shocking number of alcohol-related accidents. Hey, it’s frustrating. But listen…
When you say things like: “our parents had a lot more freedom to do what they wanted to do and maybe go have a couple of drinks and drive home after, so it’s not fair to us”, you are proving why people in Ontario have decided to pass this legislation.
As someone who, had I made Really Bad Decisions sixteen or twenty or twenty-two years ago, could be your mother, I can tell you that the number of times I “got to go and have a couple of drinks” before I was nineteen were fairly limited. Not that I wanted to. Because, as we’ve covered previously, I was (and am) a nerd. I can also tell you that the number of times I went and “had a couple of drinks and then drove home” between the ages of nineteen and twenty-two (when it was legal for me to HAVE a couple of drinks period) I don’t think I can even count on two fingers. And not because I can’t count to two.
Honest to Christ, if I had *any* idea how bloody brain-damaged I sounded when I was sixteen, I’d have shot myself in the ankles. You know what? I think I *did* have an idea how brain-damaged I sounded when I was sixteen. I remember once having a big fight with my mother when I was fourteen, and I screamed out : “IT’S NOT FAIR! YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A KID!!!” and she started to laugh. Really, really hard. And I get that now.
It’s not that we don’t remember what it’s like to be a kid. We remember all too well. That’s the problem. What we’ve *forgotten* is what our stupid fights were about. Do you know why we’ve forgotten that stuff? Because it’s not important. In the long run, if you’re really seriously thinking that it’s an INFRINGEMENT ON YOUR HUMAN RIGHTS for the government not to allow you to DRINK AND DRIVE, then write to your MP. By all means, write to your MLA. Oh, what’s that? You don’t even get to *vote* for another two years? That’s okay. Your opinion is still important. Can’t get off your butt to write a letter to your MLA? Quit whining.
Here’s the thing: when was the last time you, as a teenager, showed, or witnessed any of your OMG BFFs! show restraint? Moderation? When was the last time you (or one of your closest friends) decided you DIDN’T want the newest gadget, the pinkest fantubler, the sickest longboard? Show me a twenty-year-old with the ungodly power of their own vehicle in their own hands who decides to have *no* alcohol *because it’s the wise, right thing to do* at a party rather than have just one or just two, and I will show you a twenty-year-old who chose a long time ago not to drink at all.
The fact is, kiddos, that you’re invincible. Like Achilles, you cannot be taken down. You’re immortal and untakedownable. Except for that one tendon. Unlike Achilles, though, that tendon is your prefrontal cortex (it’s hardly entirely your fault; your hormones are making you kind of stupid) and not your heel.
Anyway. It’s not unfair. And your parents didn’t have the right to go out and have a few drinks and then drive home. If they *chose* to do that, they chose unwisely. Look, your parents wouldn’t be asking for legislation to help protect you if you were willing to preserve your own well-being. I know, I know…I’m becoming a complete hardass in my doterage. I don’t understand you. I don’t understand that all you want to do is let off some steam and get drunk once in a while. I don’t understand how sometimes you don’t mean to have a few drinks; it just kind of happens. I don’t get how you need to be treated like an adult. How it’s not fair. I don’t get any of that.
(But I have a secret: I *do* get that. Here’s my secret – I’m a little surprised that I am, as they say, pushing 40. In my head, I’m still somewhere between eighteen and twenty five, but smarter. It surprises the hell out of me nearly every day that I’m over 32. In fact, I’m still a little flabbergasted that I’m allowed to play with toys with small parts.)
You may be right. It may not be fair. But I’d like to invite you to think about it in the OF* manner: What’s not fair is coming home after a weekend at the beach to have your mother phone you to tell you that one of your good friends was taken home in three body bags. What’s not fair is having to bury your children before they get to be treated like adults. What’s not fair is your sister(s) and/or brother(s) having to do alone all those things you planned to do together. What’s not fair is your girlfriend/boyfriend feeling like it’s their fault because they didn’t stop you. What’s not fair is when you have to live for the rest of your life (and believe you me, when you’re sixteen, twenty-five feels a long, long way off, when you’re thirty-eight, sixteen feels like spit in the ocean compared to what you still have left) knowing that you killed someone because you made one stupid choice that you knew better than to choose.
So sure, it’s unfair. It’s unfair that your ability to make those decisions isn’t trusted. It sucks that you have to wait *even longer* to drink and drive. That really, really sucks. Boy. You know what’d be a good idea? Become a statistician, a nurse, or an EMS when you grow up, and feel free to change it. Also: members of the gender in which you are interested prefer it WHEN YOU BATHE, sweetheart.