Sunday, March 6, 2011

Life lessons

Last week, Abby asked me if she could walk up to the neighborhood park with some neighborhood friends to play. Regardless of the fact that we had plans that night already, and homework, my answer was going to be "No."

She was less than pleased, to say the least. In true Abby fashion...well, wait, that probably isn't fair...In true 11-year-old fashion, she proceeded to roll her eyes, stomp off and yell that I was so unfair and I never let her do anything!!!

Ah, well. Such is life. Or so I thought.

That night, Chris was at a meeting and so I had planned on taking the kids to get a bite to eat. Abby was not shy about letting me - and everyone in the restaurant - know that she was upset with me.

The body language.
The tears.
The refusal to help with Libby, four drinks, a high chair and a tray.
Oh yes, she was demonstrating to me HER opinion of my answer, even without saying a word.

So we sat down. And I asked her what she had to say.

"Sorry!!" she said unenthusiastically, sarcastically and downright rudely.

"No, Abby. That's not what I mean. I mean, explain to me why me saying no to letting you play at the park as it approached dusk is making you so mad."

Then I got the earful.

We never let her do anything or go anywhere. She is, after all, almost in junior high and should be able to do more things, go more places, have more freedom!!! After all, she IS 11 years old!!!

(It took all of me not to go off the deep end upon hearing this, but I refrained. I want her to come talk to me when she is upset, and although I thought she was being completely unreasonable, the least I could do was hear her out. So I sat and listened more, and through tears, she continued.)

My other  friends are allowed to do so much more, she claimed. I asked for examples. She had none.

My other friends can stay out later, ride their bikes further, play longer. I asked for examples of times I called her in before the other neighborhood kids. She had none.

Still, she was very upset and wanted to know why...why we seem so strict...why we don't trust her.

And then I told her that if it was simply a matter of trusting HER, there would be no issue. Abby is not perfect, but she is responsible, cares for others and would never do something that she knew Chris and I would disapprove of - at least not yet. ;)

I explained, and Chris reiterated later, that the people we don't trust are all the other people hanging out at that park. The other kids with no place to go, nothing to do, but get in trouble. We explained that although she is getting older, the majority of our decisions will be determined by how safe she will be in her surroudings, and if we arent comfortable with those surroundings, then we don't care HOW many other friends are allowed to go, she won't be.

A great kid, yes. She seemed to understand. When Chris talked to her later, she seemed to understand a bit more. He knows what some of these kids do at this park, and no thank you, we want no part of it.

Seems we are having more of these conversations with Abby as of late. Explaining that, sadly, the world she knows isnt always safe for kids, and people arent always as nice as we hope. Explaining that we, as her parents, will always be on guard when she leaves the house, goes to a new school, wants to hang out with new kids, wants to date {GASP}, wants to drive {GASPx2}.

That's our job. I was thankful for the talk we had. Thankful that God watched over me as I listened to her share her feelings - her very important 11-year-old feelings - with me. Thankful that we can still keep her a wee bit safe from harm, at least for the time being.

Yes, kids grow too too fast. And I'm not liking it one little bit!

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Tracey's bookshelf: read

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
My Sister's Keeper
Nineteen Minutes
The Pact
The Tenth Circle
Change of Heart
Keeping Faith
Handle with Care
House Rules
More Than It Hurts You
Amy and Isabelle
A Prayer for Owen Meany
A Widow for One Year
The 158-Pound Marriage
To the Lighthouse
Between the Acts
A Room of One's Own, and Three Guineas
The Help

Tracey English's favorite books »