Ah, the tween years. I remember being that age and telling my mother about my glorious plans for revenge when I had kids my age. “I’m going to let my kids do whatever they want!” “I’m going to let my children stay up until midnight on school nights!” “No curfew for my kids! THEY can decide when they’re ready.” So many jewels of authority spewed forth from me. Mom, wherever you are looking down upon me, I can hear you giggling. I get it now.
This morning was one of those mornings that you just want to get inside the Tardis and time travel backwards to start over. My youngest daughter, 12, has a friend a little more than a year younger. Both parents work, so this young lady has a key and comes home after school. As with all kids, sometimes they are challenged in the morning and forget things. For this child, forgetting the key is an all too common occurrence. She has been to my home on two of these occasions this year and I’ve done all I could to help out, including keeping her until after 6 PM until the parents could come get her. I truly don’t mind. But…yes, there’s a but.
This situation has been happening at an alarming rate. Many parents are not always home to help and other children around her are in elementary school, leaving a one hour gap between having other kids at home. It happened again yesterday and I was driving past to take my son to a crucial doctor’s appointment for a serious matter. I did not have time to stop and had no idea that once again, this child had no key to get in the house. My 12 year old chastised me and said that I was mean for not helping. *sigh*
So, this morning, my daughter woke up in a disgruntled mood and I was already starting to get exasperated by things, when the incident from yesterday was brought up. “You left my friend alone, unable to get into her house.” I very clearly explained that this young lady was not my child and it was her parent’s responsibility to ensure she could safely get home after school. I also mentioned that this exact scenario is why she doesn’t have a key. I waited until we had a security system with cameras and an electronic entry, due to my personal preferences and level of comfort. She will be 13 in March and she has never had to come home alone and for that I am grateful.
However, what I wasn’t told, was that during my explanation this morning, she was in a live camera chat with this child and that I was not informed that my comments were being heard live. Can you say livid? I used to wonder why there are laws preventing people being recorded without their consent and I totally get it now. I was then informed that this child’s feelings were hurt. This did not bode well for the rest of the morning. I let her know that I was very angry about being recorded live without my knowledge, despite her thinking it was “no big deal”.
Now I know what some may be thinking. I’m being too harsh and perhaps she didn’t realize what she was doing was wrong, but I beg to differ. There was ample opportunity to tell me, I’m talking to “X” right now. She was silent and there was no way for me to know what she was up to. I still would have said that I can’t always be the one to take care of things, as I’m not her parent. I still would have suggested that her parents find a back up plan that keeps her safe. I also still would have said that it was not my responsibility and that my son’s test appointment was critical and could not be delayed. However, I also would have taken the time to address her friend and let her know why I said the things I did. Now, my daughter has to receive a consequence for her actions.
There are so many good lessons I want to teach my children. I want my daughter to grow up strong with a sense of morals and ethics that will turn her into a confident and strong woman. However, when things like this happen, it’s so frustrating. I’m no different from any other parent who has raised a child or has dealt with rebellion of some kind. I’ve tried all the different types of punishment, but I have never tried this one above. I might just do that, to show how it is when control is taken away and you can’t do anything about it but watch it happen. Too deep for a 12 year old to make the connection? Perhaps, but when my privacy, something that is precious to me, is compromised and taken advantage of, I need to impart a lasting lesson. I’m sure I’ll wind up also learning a lesson from choosing this form of consequence, but after all, she IS almost a teenager.