Q. My daughter, a junior at an Arlington high school, is begging to go to a house party at the beach in June. She has been invited to two-one in Rehoboth, the other in Ocean City. As trustworthy as she is, the idea scares me.
A. What a sensible lady you are. House parties haven't changed since our day, except to get a little more so. No wonder you're scared.
As a general rule, you can figure that the house parties at Rehoboth, Bethany Beach and even Fenwick are controlled somewhat better than those in Dewey Beach and certainly Ocean City, if only because the houses and tend to be fancier, the rents higher and the homeowners more particular about their tenants.
If your daughter does go, there will be some predictable reactions, both on your part and hers.
She will have a wonderful time or an absolutely awful, I-don't-want-to-talk-about-it time; get a bad sunburn; get a new boyfriend or break up with the one she has; act like a rowdy and generally gather a few more guilt feelings than she would have collected at home. Even the most trustworthy child is tested.
Drugs will be much more available than they are at school-if not at your daughter's house party than at the one down the road. There also will be a lot of beer and that house party horror, Kool-Aid and vodka. Combine this with the amount of time your child will spend on the highway and you can see why your reaction will be three days of anxiety.Teen-agers are peripatetic anyway, but at the beach, every car is a floating house party.
At the very least, you will want to talk with the chaperone. It is amazing the things you discover, as we found when we investigated the house party of a classy Catholic girls' school. Someone's "older brother" was going to be in charge. He was 19.
For the best protection you have two choices. You can postpone the house party until your daughter has graduated-when she must be considered responsible for her own actions and becomes more sensible immediately-or you can offer to chaperone yourself. Not many high-school students want to go on a house paty if they have a parent along.