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INTRODUCTION

As she was leaving the gym, Radha Samson called her favorite pizzeria and ordered a large pizza with the "works." It was ready by the time she arrived to pick it up. Then she headed for home and for the conversation with her son, Anan. Use of the car was becoming a big issue.

Earlier that day Radha had received several excited text messages from Anan:

Mom, I need the car tomorrow. Have to go to Disneyland.

And then a minute later:

Mom, call back. Important.

"Yes," she had thought, "everything is important … but I can't deal with this right now." So she had texted back:

Let's talk tonight.

He answered her:

Okay, if I have to wait, but DON'T FORGET!

Her son could be as determined as she was! She wasn't really sure how to handle this latest challenge—the prospect of Anan driving 50 miles to the amusement park with a bunch, or even two, of his crazy friends. They were nice enough boys but not any more responsible than Anan, and she certainly didn't want them driving her car. She reluctantly realized that in only a year, Anan would be out of the house with no need to even ask for her permission. She decided to try a different approach this time.

As she drove up, the front door burst open and Radha watched her son and their dog, a German shepherd mix, race each other for the pizza box.

It didn't take long for Anan to raise the topic of the evening. He said:

So what about it, Mom? Peter's waiting for my call.

Instead of the instant rejection that she wanted to make—"you're too young, you're too inexperienced," etc.—Radha sat back and said:

I can see this is really a big deal for you. Tell me more. What are you thinking?

Anan began:

Well, Friday's an in-service day for the teachers, so we get it off and we figured the lines won't be as long as usual at Disneyland. So we're going. If I can have the car, that is.

Radha took a deep breath and, for a moment, forgot her resolution not to react, and then spoke:

Anan, you are just 17. You've only had your license a little over a year. Traffic can be very heavy on the way.

Anan responded:

Oh, Mom. You never trust me. You treat me as if I were still in junior high. What are you going to do when I'm 18 and a so-called adult?

Once again Radha took the bait and replied:

Look, Anan, I do have some worries. Besides the traffic ...

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