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The luxury of misspent youth
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Most TV shows often depict kids getting in some of the worst situations imaginable.

It is kind of sobering, in a lot of ways, to think of the example they are portraying that my son may be seeing.

I am beyond grateful my child has a solid inner moral compass and knows not to do things that are wrong.

But, still, I worry.

Even the best kids make the occasional bad choice or two.

And instead of me trying to preach the lesson on home, I usually use it as an opportunity to explain that our youth can be full of mistakes and regrets.

"What's the worst thing you did when younger?" Cole asked out of the blue one day.

"You mean besides my first marriage?" I mumbled under my breath.

I really didn't do a whole lot of bad stuff.

Fear was a great deterrent and Mama and Granny both threatened me within an inch of my life if they ever caught me doing anything I shouldn't do.

Sure, I did a few things - like smoking under the bleachers under the school which may or may not have caused a small grass fire which only burned for a few moments.

There was no proof it was me, and I may or may not have been the only one smoking under there, but I'm no snitch.

On occasion, I may have prank called a few people.

And I may have rolled a house or two.

Now that I am older, I regret that now. What a mess that had to be clean.

I think, in some ways, hearing the boring tales of my youth was a disappointment to my child.

He's a good child; usually, he's correcting me and telling me to behave.

Hearing that my idea of youthful rebellion consisted of wearing a Motley Crue shirt when everyone else was listening to R.E.M. did not seem that exciting.

"So, you didn't get in trouble then?" he asked, hoping for some vicarious rebel rousing.

I shook my head. "Not really." I was almost apologetic.

Truth be told, any time I did anything really stupid, I got caught or told on myself.

Mama could get quite indignant whenever she busted me in the middle of something.

Like the time my friend Crystal, who was about two years younger than me, decided we needed to go for a ride. Only problem was, Crystal was about 13 at the time.

Down the Athens Highway we went, like we were the B-52's looking for the Love Shack.
And right past my house.

Who was sitting at the end of the driveway, Virginia Slim poised in hand with her flaming red dragon hair taking up the windshield?


I screamed.

"Do you think she saw us?" I asked, nearly in fearful tears.

Mama could teleport in front of us if she had - and would.

Crystal shook her head. "I think she was looking for her cigarette lighter. And even if she did, I can outrun her!"

She took a sharp right and headed down a back road that would double track us back to town.
I didn't want to mention Mama never had to look for a lighter, the woman could breathe fire to light her cigarettes.

Later that afternoon, Crystal's mama dropped me off at my house.

Mama was positioned well in the middle of her trap, poised with a Diet Coke, a crossword puzzle and two packs of cigarettes.

She was ready to go the distance.

"I saw the funniest thing today," she began.
"I could have sworn I saw Crystal's mama's car going down the road. Only it wasn't her mama driving but Crystal. And do you know who I saw in the passenger seat?"

I was quiet.

Usually, she didn't lead with what I did wrong. This was a whole new tactic.

Thankfully, Granny flounced in at that moment, wanting to know if I had had a good time.

"Oh, she had a good time, alright," Mama said drolly.

"Whatcha mean?" Granny asked.

"I think I saw her and Crystal joy riding in Crystal's mama's car earlier. With Crystal driving. Why
they thought they could go do this is beyond me!"

Mama was working up to a tirade.

Have you have ever seen a redhead get riled up? It ain't pretty. The woman would get madder and madder and madder, until smoke came out of her ears. That's the point she was at.

"Oh, good Lord," Granny snorted. "Is that what you got yourself all in a lather about? Ain't no worse than what you done when you were not much older than she was."

"What did she do?" I asked.

Mama did something wrong? You mean she wasn't always a joy-killing, dream-crushing hindrance to one's teenage years who could foresee the worst possible circumstances in every situation, including breathing?

I saw the moment of staunch fear on Mama's face as she stuck her little chin up in the air to defy her own mother.

Granny was the center of attention and about to deliver a bombshell - she was enjoying this way too much.

"Well, let me tell you," Granny began in a conspiratorial whisper. "The petty little things you do ain't nothing compared to her. This one stole a motorcycle for a joy ride once and wrecked it."
"Mother!" Mama hissed. "I did not steal anything."

"Whaddya call taking it without permission? That's called stealing, Jean. Plain and simple.
Anyway - she stole this boy's motorcycle and took off. Knowing her, she was a-hollering ‘high ho, Silver!' as she sped off."

"You know how to ride a motorcycle?" I asked Mama.

Mama would not look at me.

"No, she didn't know how to ride a motorcycle, which is why she ended up putting the thing in a ditch on down the road. She thought it was like a motorized bicycle," Granny said.
"She wrecked this thing - I still don't know how we didn't end up paying to fix it - and came crawling out of the ditch wondering if someone was gonna go buy her a Cherry Coke. She tried and tried to make up a story to cover it up, even going so far as to say she was just sitting on it and it took off spontaneously. Like anyone believed that. She got a wild hair and decided she was born to be wild - for about a mile."

"Was it fun?" I asked.

Mama still refused to look at me. "Until I put it in the ditch it was."

It was nice to see Mama not only made mistakes at times but that she had a rebellious streak as well and didn't have to always do the right thing.

It gave me a whole new perspective.

And, a newfound respect for my Mama.

Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."