Conversation with my older daughter, age 21, circa 2007:
“Where are you going?”
“To Teddy’s.” Teddy’s is an ultra-hip celebrity-studded “exclusive” club in L.A. at the time.
“I thought you didn’t like it there and you weren’t going to go again?”
“I know, Mom, but if I don’t go, Baker and Christina won’t be able to get in. And Baker’d be really upset.”
At the time, she is platinum blonde. The skirt she is wearing is stunningly short—not that I didn’t wear skirts that short when I was her age. And the heels she is wearing are almost as high.
Having grown up in Los Angeles myself, and lived here in the seventies and eighties, I try not to think about what goes on at Teddy’s. But at a certain point, they make their own decisions. I say this like a mantra to myself. They will anyway. There’s nothing you can do about it.
I have raised three children in Los Angeles. And from the moment they turned sixteen (the legal driving age in California), I cannot recall fully falling asleep until I heard their car pull in the driveway or received a text from them, often at 4:00 a.m. I don’t mean to make myself sound “loose.” We were not the party house. They had curfews—on weekdays, anyway. But I often woke up on Sunday morning to find three of my oldest daughter’s male friends asleep in the family room. I don’t know where their parents thought they were sleeping, but I was happy that they hadn’t gone back out on the road. I would not call myself a conventional mother—the only thing you can hope is that you somehow infuse them with proper values and they come out okay on the other side.
Parenting and raising children in L.A. has been on my mind recently, ever since I saw Sofia Coppola’s new movie, The Bling Ring, which opens tomorrow in L.A. and New York. It’s based on the true story of a gang of outsiders, troubled teens who got caught up in a pathological high enhanced by drugs and believed in their own invincibleness. They didn’t understand that there are rules, and, acting as if they had some kind of “access-all-areas” pass, broke into celebrities’ homes when they were out of town and stole their stuff. I remember thinking, during the wave of publicity that ensued after the arrest of the real Bling Ring, “Oh, great, another reason to think L.A. is weird.” And at the same time, I understood how the culture that we live in could induce a skewed sense of entitlement. Did I mention I was raised here, too?