Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler… ?
Except maybe not for my teenager?
Yesterday’s blog post by Errol Laborde got me thinking about Mardi Gras, which isn’t something I usually do in the dead-center of October, but these are definitely unusual times.
So I started contemplating: Do I want Mardi Gras parades to happen this year?
I mean, of course, yes, I do. Carnival season defines us as a city in many ways, and although the house floats were awesome this past year – a tradition I very much hope continues – it wasn’t the same as a normal parade season in all of its marching-band-glittered shoe-screaming-crowds-shimmering-floats-waving arms glory.
But this year will be different because this year I will have a high schooler. And that, if I’m being honest, terrifies me a little bit. Maybe more than a little bit.
Ruby and I have always hit the parade route together, and even though it’s never really been my scene, I loved doing parades with her and was always happy, in retrospect, that we’d gone, even though I typically dreaded it until we got there and I had a beer or two and got into a more festive mindset.
This year, though, if there are parades, she will be doing them with her friends.
And I remember all too clearly the stuff I did at parades at her age. Thankfully, there was no social media back in the mid-1990s, but even without a Facebook memory of it, I know I did a few things back then that I’d rather my kids didn’t do now.
This isn’t unique to New Orleans, I know – parents all over the world have these same thoughts, even when they don’t live in a city with a weeks-long celebration of booze and debauchery. (And yes, I also know that Carnival season is so much more than that … but it is also that.)
I hope that I have, over the past decade-and-a-half, instilled enough confidence into her that she can withstand peer pressure and enough common sense in her that she knows how to stay safe and make good choices.
Ultimately, parades or no parades, it’s not about Mardi Gras so much as it is letting go. Taking a deep breath and trying to trust the universe. Setting clear boundaries and being prepared to follow through with consequences.
Still, though, Mardi Gras will be scarier than Halloween for me this year. And probably for the next several years.
Veteran parents, do you have any tips to share?