It's some pretty basic math: One 5,000-square-foot semi-finished mansion plus 2,000 teenagers invited via various social media platforms equals $70,000 in damage following an epic rager.
Hosting a party for the ages may be every teenager's Project X dream, but it's a parent's worst nightmare.
Yet that's what happened in Brampton, Ontario (located just outside Toronto) on May 2, despite police officers' best efforts to stop the bash before it could get started.
They warned the boy's mother about the messages he sent out on social media about the event. Her response? "I told my son he could have some friends over."
And therein, of course, lay the problem.
The 17-year-old host either misunderstood the power of social media (which seems a bit hard to believe), or the meaning of the word few; because by the time the cops showed up to shut the place down, approximately 2,000 teenagers were on the scene, some shuttled in on a chartered bus parked down the street.
And they did not want to leave.
A week later, the Twitvitation problem struck again, this time with some potentially deadly consequences. A pair of 14-and 15-year-old hostesses in Barrie, Ontario (a short drive north of Toronto) put out the call on Twitter, without realizing a couple of fully grown men -- with drugs, guns and the desire to crash a teen party -- might answer.
The end result was a home invasion, 16 stitches in the head for one teenage guest, holes in the walls and a long list of charges against the uninvited guests, including break-and-enter, forcible confinement and assault with a weapon.
While those are expensive -- and terrifying -- lessons for the families involved, they're teachable moments for the rest of us.
With the summer beach/bush/barbecue bash season now officially upon us, it's a sure bet to most parents of teenagers that said teens will try to head out the door with a casual "I'm going out," hoping we'll be distracted and yell "OK" when we should be giving them the third degree.
So, here's a checklist of what to ask your teen before they hit the party circuit this weekend or this summer.
Where are you headed? That seems pretty basic, right? But it's the numero uno question on the list for a reason. All other questions flow from here. If the answer is "out," your next words should be "not so fast."
Please define out. Out is not a destination. It's a pithy response your kids hope you'll be too busy to bother asking about. Ask. Out is lots of places. Is it going for a burger run? To cruise the strip? A movie? A bonfire on the beach? Does 'out' involve hanging out playing video games with a friend or heading to a party Spicoli and Blutarski would have loved? The devil's in the details.
Who's going? Here's another important question that will require a straight answer. If it's a group of kids you've known for ages and are regulars at your house, you'll probably breathe easier than if it's a group of kids you don't know.
How are you getting there? When your kids are in the early years of high school, there's very little danger they'll be catching rides with seniors, because who wants to bring the Minor Niners to a party? But once they near the end of their second year or get into the third, some kids have access to wheels and that means all bets are off on parent-chauffeured trips to and from just about anywhere.
Will there be parental supervision? That's a big one at our house. No parents?
No chance our daughter's going.
Will there be drinking? Yep, it's a stupid question because the probable answer is 'yes.' Have the discussion about drinking and your expectations surrounding your kids' behaviour early and often. In our house, there is zero chance we will supply booze for a party, but a 100 per cent chance we will pick up kids to make sure they get home, even if they have been drinking. Especially if they have been drinking.
Is there a plan to keep each other safe? We all have that one friend who never knew when to quit drinking the Wildberry Vodka Coolers in university, and makes the same mistake with margaritas or martinis today. Make sure that person is safe from their own drunken stupidity -- or someone else's.
Speaking of plans, is there one for getting home? If you're in an urban area, taxis are always an option; less so at bush parties or at parties out in the sticks. Has a parent been organized to be the safe ride home? Our daughter knows we will drive her and her friends to and from parties, even though she attends a high school with kids from four other small towns and we may have to drive 45 minutes each way. We will make as many trips as we have to in order to ensure kids get home safe, and will mobilize other parents to drive, too. So what if some kid pukes in the back seat? Better that than a 2 a.m. knock at the door from police.
When it's over, let the punishment fit the crime. Our daughter knows better than to lie to us about where she's going, and we hope she respects us enough to not want to. She knows we don't condone underage drinking, but also knows that if she slips up and has a drink or two at a party, she should not be afraid to call us because we'll be mad or disappointed. She knows we will come despite being mad and disappointed. She knows we will take as many kids home as will fit in our cars. She also knows we will not tiptoe around any headache she may have in the morning, and that she should be prepared for a discussion about her choices later that day.