The kid tried to pull a caper the other night.
It involved a bogus party, a questionable sleepover and a vague itinerary that left me with nothing but questions.
There were red flags all over this one. Still, I let it play out to a point just short of actual transgression, at which moment I swept in like a ghost in the machine and set everything right with a jarring dose of reality.
It was fun for me, really. And on some level I was pulling for the kid, who bears the misfortune of having a seasoned mischief-maker for a father.
I know all the tricks: the Bogus Sleepover, the Phantom Chaperone, the Risky Business — I was just a junior in high school when I pulled off the Fake Freshman at no less a venue than Georgetown University, an illusion I was able to maintain until the hours after midnight when I tripped over a tree root and rolled face-first down a hill.
But kids don’t run game on their parents like they used to, just like they don’t play football in empty fields after school or ride their bikes for miles until the streetlights come on. Some of it I blame on laziness and video games, like a proper old grouch should. Also, most parents I know keep pretty tight tabs on their kids via text and social media.
But part of the reason, I believe, is that these kids just aren’t creative enough to grift the Ferris Bueller generation, raised in suburbs where someone’s parents were always on vacation. We can smell an unsupervised kegger a mile away.
Most of us still remember, and some of us remember why.
When I was a teenager, every plan my friends and I hatched was done with the express purpose of shaking the parental shackles, to be as free as teenagers could be, even if just for a night.
And so, though I am as vigilant as Batman when it comes to my teenage children’s nocturnal activities, I wouldn’t be entirely put out were I to discover they got it together enough to pull one over on their old man.
It’s even possible, I suppose, that they already have.