Sunday, May 6, 2012
When I was your age....
My daughter is 11. And a half. She's entering Middle School next year, but ever since we attended the middle school round up, or whatever the hell it was called, we feel like she's already there. Part of getting older is having freedom, so I have been struggling with deciding how much I am willing to give her. At the beginning of the school year I was scared to drop her off at the bus stop, making her stay on the phone with me the whole time until she got to school. Now, I'm trying to let her spread her wings a little, while hoping she doesn't get kidnapped or ran over by a large truck.
I know she handles situations well. A couple months ago a man in a car said "hi" to her at the bus stop. She took off, circled buildings, hid in the bushes and called me and the cops. The school sent a note home warning parents that kids were being approached at local bus stops, so to be aware and ALSO to never roll down their windows and say "hi." The police said she did an amazing job of staying safe and being aware. I was excited because I got to miss a half day of work to sit with her and write reports and draw sketches of the creepy, salutation offering perv. Some of her friends walk around after school, up to the corner store, over to the park; we live in a small town. And they all have cell phones, after all they ARE ages 10.25-12.
So, when she asked to go over to a friend's house, who was approximately 4 minutes away on bike, I said: I don't know. And I didn't know. I searched the innards of my elderly 33 year old brain and thought way back to when I was eleven. And a half. WWMMD? What would my mom have done. And then it hit me. She would have told me to get my lazy ass on a bike and gotten the hell out of dodge. What was MY problem? Why was I so uptight? Of course I rode my bike to my friends at eleven. I rode my bike all over the neighborhood, up the street, to the school. Its WHAT we did. Feeling empowered by my ability for recollection, I assured myself not only COULD she go, she SHOULD go. On her own. With her GPS enabled cell phone.
So I told her to unload the dishwasher and I retreated to my laptop. She came gave me a kiss goodbye, I mandated she be in the door by not a moment later than 7:30 and I triumphantly prided myself on being a flexible, growth oriented, confident parent. A little while later I went into the kitchen and noticed the dishwasher was still full. Oh hell naw. It was 7:00 p.m., I called her. "You need to leave now and come home." "Why mom?" She asked me. "Is it starting to rain?" I looked outside and noticed the wind had begun to pick up and the sky had darkened.
"No. Its not raining, but you didn't unload the dishwasher. And so, your privileges that I, your super freedom loving mom have given you, are being revoked!" "OK, I'll get my stuff and leave." She promised me. At 7:06 I notice large raindrops beginning to fall. At 7:08 she calls.
"Mom, its raining."
"Yup, I see that."
"You want me to ride home in the rain?"
I thought about it. One, it was 85 degrees out. Two, it made a great punishment for not doing the dishwasher. I giggled. Three, WWMMD? Yeah, thats right, back in my day we rode our bikes in the rain. We got wet. We rode faster to make it home. Not only would she ride her bike home in the increasing downpour, damn it, she would be a better person for doing so! Kids these days are so spoiled with their parents shuttling them here and there and everywhere. Not my kid. Again, I felt proud of myself.
"You are going to ride home right now, as it is it's almost 7:30. You are going to get wet. It will make you ride faster. You will get wet, you will not melt, you come in and unload the dishwasher. So get moving."
I hung up the phone and looked outside as a torrential downpour began. Twinges of self-doubt occurred, trying to break their way through my stubborn resolve. I called Mr. Perfect and asked if I was a mean mom. He agreed she should have unloaded the dishwasher AND she'd be fine getting wet, but I sensed hesitation. He kept asking how hard it was raining and I think he may have heard the thunder. I decided I didn't really need his opinion, after all I couldn't back down now. She was, one, on her way. Two, it was only a 4 minute bike ride. Three, seriously, whats the likelihood that THAT lightening struck her... damn it, I was trying like hell to be a tough parent!
I saw a car pull up. My daughter hopped out and helped her friend's mom pull her bike out of the back. What the fuck! That undermining other parent! She drove my kid home! I knew she was judging me for allowing my daughter to ride her bike home in the rain. And she ruined my punishment. I hated her guts. My daughter walked in.
"YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO GET WET!" I scowled at her. She tried to tell me that the other mom wouldn't allow her to leave in the storm. I would have none of it. I told her to go unload the dishes and I sat down in front of the T.V.
And turned it on. And saw the weather report. Severe thunderstorm warning. Wind warning. And in our isolated area, up to one inch hail and reported rotation forming. Son of a gun, that's not safe. I looked outside. It WAS coming down hard. The trees whipped around. My daughter came out of the kitchen and sat down next to me. "Sorry, mom."
"You are so lucky they spotted rotation." I told her. She grinned.
I have no idea what I'm doing. I just want her to be safe, not get raped or murdered, but not be a pansy, dipshit kid who has no friends and isn't allowed to leave the apartment. I want her to feel the awesome power of independence. I want her to have responsibilities and know consequences and experience punishment. I want her to know I'm the boss, but I feel like she is. I don't know what's right or wrong or too much or not enough. But luckily, we are both smart women, so I think we'll figure it. Together.
Or she'll end up pregnant at 13, dying in a tornado that I locked her out of the house in. Hope not.