This is Life, Based on a True Story  

Parents' worst weekend over

To quote one of my friends, “the worst, most-dreaded weekend of the year for parents of teens is finally done.”

She was referring to COG – a.k.a: Center of Gravity.

I’m not calling out COG itself. If it weren’t COG, it would be something else. Remember Thunderfest? Same thing, different year.

I had to agree with her sentiments about that weekend though.

Both my teens were there that weekend. And although I trust them and do believe they make smart choices and decisions, as a parent, you still worry about their well-being when they’re away from you being, well … teens.

When news of the 17-year old girl who lost her life at COG came out, parents everywhere shared a collective broken heart for her parents and that young lady.

I can’t even imagine having to get that phone call telling me what is every parent’s worst nightmare.

The cynics out there will say we should always know what our kids are up to and it’s a sign of our parenting when our kids experiment or participate in illicit activity.

To a small degree, this is true. But even the best parents will never know everything their kids are up to.

Add to that fact is that kids will stretch the truth or avoid it completely, if it serves their purposes.

Put all of this together and throw in a festival-type atmosphere like Centre of Gravity, and, unfortunately, tragedies will occur.

When people of any age group are together, there’s a mob-mentality way of thinking that takes over.

What seems like a terrible idea with just you and your friend becomes a dare with bragging rights when you throw in another half dozen people.

Adults get sucked into this. So how do we expect teens not to? It’s not something we’re going to fix, so maybe we should learn to manage it better

When I heard both my teens were off to COG for the weekend, I told them both to text me every hour – complete with the threat that if they didn’t, I’d be coming to find them myself.

While they didn’t quite send me the hourly text, they both checked in regularly enough to appease me and keep me off their backs.

Even my daughter, who is 18, respected my request. She made a point of not only checking in, but to assure me that despite there being “bad stuff” all around her, she wanted no part of it.

When my son checked in, he basically said the same thing and assured me he was with his older cousin who was keeping her ever-watchful eye on him.

As adults raising these young people though, perhaps we should also demand more of the organizers of these festivals.

  • The most obvious would be to ensure there are more police and security personnel.
  • Have a "no excuses" policy toward under-age drinking and any sort of drug-related activity.
  • Bag checks should be mandatory at the entry gates.

I took my kids to an amusement park one year, and there were bag checks at the gates to make sure no one brought in outside food and drink.

Why? Because the park wanted to ensure the guests visiting there would only be buying the food and drinks served at the park itself.

And the bag checkers were giving really thorough checks of our bags They dug right in searching for contraband water bottles and snacks. No one argued with this; it was just accepted that this was part of the admission requirements.

If an amusement park can do this every single day, why can’t a three-day festival?

Sure you’ll lose some ticket sales, but the people who are going for the entertainment will still go.

Are young lives “worth” this excessive follow-up? I think so. I think anyone’s life is worth that.

But we need to demand it.

And for the parents of that young girl, my heart still aches for them. My hope is that they find some solace in knowing their daughter's tragedy caused many parents to really talk hard — again, with our teens.

Thanks for reading.


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About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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