Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Peculiar State of the Adolescent

If you have read Claudia's blog of early this morning, you know that we have had yet another less-than-honest incident with our oldest daughter, who is fourteen. We said goodbye to her last night as she was ostensibly on her way with another friend to a third friend's house to spend the night. Early this morning (as in 2:00 AM'ish) Claudia and I were awakened to hear from friend number one's mother reporting that her daughter (friend number two) had been picked up by law enforcement (presumably for breaking the community curfew), but that our daughter was not with her. She did not know where she was. So Claudia especially, and I a bit, had our sleep disturbed once again for the umpteenth time, wondering if she was safe, but wondering even more why on her first night off grounding she decided to break our trust once again. We know that in her mind we probably would never know that she hadn't been at the friend's home all night; she took a risk and it didn't turn out for her this time.

Claudia made a couple of telephone calls this morning after we were awake for the day, letting known friends of our daughter's know that we were aware she was not where we thought she was and asking them to simply call if they knew her location. Claudia handled most of those details, our daughter finally called and told us she wouldn't be home until she found one of the friends' missing cell phones (which apparently our daughter had lost). Claudia told her to get home immediately and we would help her find the cell, but she refused.

Finally, at 2:30 this afternoon she came into the house, bearing our mail from the mailbox with her. With no words or verbal confrontation (one of the blessings of raising an introvert child) she proceeded to prepare herself some lunch. I bit my tongue from verbal engagement and simply asked that she let her mother know that she was back home. After lunch, and here's the peculiar reminder to me of the complexity of adolescence, she promptly sat down in front of our living room television and began to watch Hannah Montana, a program designed for "tweens." (Of course we have a somewhat delayed nineteen-year-old son who watches the same program, so it's not that unusual for our home; it just seems unusual that a nearly fifteen-year-old rebellious child who in most every other way is "normal" would be amused by such a program).

It's perplexing to have a daughter away from home the entire night, not where she is supposed to be, her location unknown to us in a series of defiant, independent moves, arrive home to engage in pre-adolescent television programming.

It's in these moments that I remind myself that perhaps she isn't as grown up as she wants us to think she is, and that we need to continue to exercise patience and love in the midst of setting boundaries and holding her responsible for her behavior. I am grateful to have a spouse who is able to take primary responsibilty for this child of ours, peculiar as the state of adolescence is.


Linda B. said...

Hi Bart, She's still sounding just like our Megan (15, she watches all those tween shows too, breaking the family rules the first day off grounding. Acts as though we have no right to know where she's been. The scary part is she has no idea when she is putting herself in a dangerous situation. I hope your daughter is better at that.

Bart said...

Sadly I think Salinda is probably not much different than a lot of 14-year-old's who think they are invincible, accountable to no one and fully able to handle their own lives. We hope she does not have to learn the hard way, and while we are doing everything to help prevent that, as you know all too well, there's only so much we can do. Sigh.