In the interest of full disclosure, I want to revisit an issue I wrote about one year ago. Last March, soon after Horatio left for three months, Dwight tried to persuade us to let him get a moped for transportation. Horatio and I gave a firm “no.”
Well, after a great deal of careful consideration, we changed our minds. We know the dangers, of course, and worry every time he ventures out on the vehicle, but we also trust Dwight not to just be careful, but to be aggressively defensive in his driving. We are all well aware of the driving hazards in our host country.
Like most 17 year olds, Dwight has a very active life: school, clubs, two sports, girlfriend, etc. Horatio and I agreed that there is value to Dwight having his own mode of transportation. If we lived in the US, he’d have access to a car, but that’s not an option here. In China, a battery operated moped is a common mode of transportation for teenagers and adults, alike. The speed is limited, as is the distance one can travel.
We sat down and wrote a contract that Dwight signed. We listed all of the rules, which include: a set radius (about 2 miles) in which he can ride, as well as an agreement to always wear, and fasten, the helmet that we ordered from the US. Dwight knows that if he ever breaks the rules of safety, he will no longer have access to the moped. Most people here do not wear helmets when riding mopeds or bikes! He wears the helmet every time he gets on the moped, even if he is just going a hundred yards. It’s non-negotiable.
He’s been driving for a few months now, and it has been really nice for him and us. Dwight has the freedom to do all of the activities, back and forth, that he wants, and we carefully monitor his comings and goings via texts and Apple’s helpful Find Friends app.
I know there is a lot of judgement out there and I’m sure many people will warn me that this was a terrible decision. For us, though, it feels right, and we will be careful and have faith that Dwight will stay safe.