Dan has always told the kids, from a very, very young age, that if they could make it to the age of twenty with no altercations with the police, that they would receive $1000 on their twentieth birthday. Now, you might think that this is a little crazy, but case in point: Dan, by the age of twenty, had had two tickets, and two car accidents, one of which left his mother's Grand Am straddling a median on Post Road. (I think there was tequila involved). One of our friends' daughter had two wrecks in her first year of driving. Another had two speeding tickets in the same timeframe. We'd probably pay out $1000 in insurance premiums if that happened to us, or at the very least, spend the same in gas and Xanax, if they screwed up and we took the keys away and I had to drive them everywhere. What I looked at at first as a silly little bet became a huge carrot, and a big savings for us, both in our checking account as well as my nerves.
When the kids finally started driving, I'd tell them "you know, you can speed up a little bit," and would be met with "no way Mom, I'm driving the speed limit, cause I want my thousand bucks." I started realizing that this bet had MEANING. We did mention to them that it wasn't totally on their word, since we have friends who are police officers, and we'd be running a police report, so they'd better not lie to us.
I should probably mention here too, that I have always told the kids that if they ever wanted to call me and have me pick them up, I'd pick 'em up anywhere, but if they called me from jail, they'd better be telling me they were getting comfortable for the night, cause I would not pick them up. "Well Mom," they would say, "what if it wasn't our fault? What if our friends did something, and we just happened to be there?" Well guess what? Mama didn't raise no dumbies, and I told 'em that I didn't raise them to have stupid friends either, so if they had stupid friends, then they deserved to be in jail, and they'd better not call me. I did mention, however, that their father, probably remembering his youth, would give them one chance, so they could pray that he answered the phone.
Side note: Jill called the other night, at 11:15pm. Phone rang five times, less than three feet from Dan's head. He never budged. Note to children: don't call Dad.
So, Thomas hit the big day on Saturday. The big 2-0, and the boy was chomping at the bit for his moolah. We camped the weekend before, and I told him, "knowing you, you'll end up with a ticket on Friday night," to which Seth's BFF Chris said "many, you'd better walk all week." Nope. Friday night, I give Dan the information to run the police report. Saturday morning comes, and Dan leaves me his checkbook, telling me to make the boy out a check. I think Dan was sweating a little bit. So off he goes to work, ready to meet us at lunch. I decided that it wouldn't be prudent for the boy to walk around with cash or check all weekend, and being a procrastinator, probably until next Thursday, when he would finally go to the bank, so I just went to the bank and transferred the money. Called Dan to verify where the money was transferring from, then called the boy and told him he was $1000 richer. He was pretty happy.
So, I picked up Thomas, grabbed Seth from the house, and drove to meet Dan for lunch (Jill was working and couldn't go). Dan sits down, looks the boy in the eye and says "can you look me in the eye as a man and tell me that you've made it till the age of twenty with no interactions with the police?"
The kid caved.
Turns out that he had a seatbelt violation in April that he neglected to tell us about, to the tune of $25 bucks. He said he came home and told Jill, who promptly told him not to tell us, lest he lose his 1000 bucks. This kid, who always said that he wouldn't lie if we asked him a direct question, caved under pressure and told the truth. Good for him, but dammit, that money was already in his account, so he made off like a bandit, thanks to a forgiving father who gave him a mulligan in the form of a seatbelt violation.
What a guy.