First if you’re a Mom go read this post by Jenn over at Rock-N-Roll Buddha. Heck even if you’re not a Mom yet, or thinking about maybe some day being one. Whatever. Go. Read. I’ll wait. I wholeheartedly agree with her. I jumped from my chair and uttered “HELL YEAH!!” when I finished reading it. The teen years are unbelievable at times. I find myself saying things I swore I would never say when my Mom said them to me in MY teen years. Things like “Because I’m your mother and I SAID SO!” and “Young lady you don’t talk back to me!”
That paragraph down there where she says
But the concerns we have -the new things we do deal with- are the things that turn the hair gray….because our children’s lives are no longer solely in our hands. They’re out there…in the scary wide world, mixing with other children and other parents and other lessons. They spend so much time out of my sight, either at school or at school functions or outside playing or at friends houses. I now have to rely on everything I’ve done up until now and hope that I haven’t royally fucked up. I have to bank on the fact that I’ve instilled some good lessons so that they’re out there making smart decisions. It’s scary as hell.
My daughters are 16 and 17. They spend a lot of their time with their friends, at school, at the mall, at their friends’ homes. Well one of them does. The youngest is grounded. For an indeterminate amount of time. That’s what made Jenn’s blog post so awesome. This last week, I really could have used some help. Some way to know it wasn’t my failure as a parent. Because when a kid does what my youngest did, that’s the first question people ask. Hell it’s the first question I have asked when watching the news or reading the paper. “Where were the parents??” is usually asked with an eyeroll and a head shake, and an air of superiority right? Well I was right here. I was here, trusting that everything we have taught them got through. That all the right versus wrong teaching we have enforced over the years had sunk in. All it took was one bad influence. One kid that got into her head.
Last Sunday, I was relaxing. I stayed in my sweats all day. I had nowhere to go nothing to do, and it was my last day to just relax and do nothing but play video games before Finals started for me. The doorbell rings. It’s the uncle of one of her friends, informing me that he just caught my daughter driving a guy’s car. SHE was supposed to be at work at the commissary.. The guy was a 22 year old soldier, and rumor has it she’s been dating him. Rumor had it she had done more. Twenty Two. And a soldier. They BOTH clearly should have known better. This guy, we’ll call him “B” sent my daughter home, on foot. He couldn’t really force her to get in his car, but she knew he knew where home was and was heading here to inform me. He delivered the news, along with the guy’s name, and his own contact info.
She tried to cover when she got home but when her other friend who’d walked her home tried to say she was in the passenger seat she stopped him and admitted it. She also admitted to kissing this guy. That’s the good and bad thing about living on post. It’s a very large installation, but it’s a small community. Someone always knows someone that knows you, and in this case thank God, because if he hadn’t caught it, it could have gone on longer and gotten further. She was hiding it THAT well.
First things first, find out the dirty details. Luckily it hasn’t gone beyond that. Lucky for her. He’s still in deep shit just for associating with minors outside of and IN the barracks. I got into her Facebook, I printed and screen captured messages to send his chain of command. I changed her password, took her computer, took her phone, took her freedom and have made her work every day at home. Washing the car, doing all the housework, picking up after the dogs outside. I could put Cinderella’s stepmother to shame and make her look like June Cleaver. But that doesn’t retroactively not make her do it. My husband uses the term 45 and 45 when he is talking about soldiers being disciplined for certain offenses. It means 45 days restriction and 45 days extra duty. So, if it’s good for the Gander it’s good for the goose. The ONLY freedom she got was going to church on Easter Sunday.
I have always given them a lot of freedom once they were old enough to want to walk around the neighborhood with their friends. And I told them if they break my trust, I’ll come down hard. For every ounce of freedom you get you loose twice as much if you screw it up. My oldest, who SHOULD be the one pushing the limits…isn’t. She’s firm in her beliefs, she’s mature and responsible she doesn’t get into trouble at all. She’s almost 18. So clearly we did SOMETHING right. But that gives little comfort when your jaw has bruises from hitting the floor.
I almost didn’t blog about this. I fully intended not to. But know what? I’m a Mom of a Teenager. My kids are still being raised, and my challenges are tough too. We don’t need to be the silent group in the parenting world. In fact, we need to be louder. Because I’d have given my left arm to have somewhere that could have shown me that I’m not the only one facing big issues. I’m not the only one whose kid has done something mind bogglingly NUTS. I’m not a failure as a parent.
Oh, and this soldier…I use that term loosely is being punished. We weren’t the only parents reporting to his chain of command. “B” did too because his nephew had been involved in the hanging out at the barracks thing. I forget what all he’s getting but it’s a lot. And he’s deserving. I know my kid knew better. But so did this guy. He’s 22, he has a car, he can go off post and meet girls his age at the usual haunts. He can make bro-friends at the barracks and in his unit. He doesn’t need to be hanging out with kids. If he were 18 or 19, hey, no problem. But at 22? No. And he’s lucky hubby is off at school. I am still sickened by the whole thing, and even though I know better, self blame just keeps sneaking in there.