Ok, now I consider myself a fairly lenient parent, I am easygoing on room cleanliness, bedtimes & TV viewing. I do require my 16 year old’s help in watching her siblings while I’m at work & on my work days I do ask her to feed them, keep the laundry moving from laundry basket, to washer to dryer (I fold it all, always) & do the dishes on my work days also. I pay her, I don’t ask her to watch her sibs for free, I don’t pay her a lot but at least it’s something, most people I know who are oldest siblings (myself included) did not get paid for watching their younger brothers & sisters.
When 16 is invited, she is allowed to go out after I get home from work on Friday nights & to stay at friends overnight on Tuesday or Friday nights, school time or summertime, either way it’s ok with me, it gets her out of my hair & makes her happier at the same time.
I would be the first to admit I’m rather anal when it comes to my sleep, I like to get 8-9 hours a night, more if possible, I’m a night owl but I know on a work night 7 am comes pretty damn early so I shoot for a 11 pm bedtime on nights when I have to get up for work the next day. Tonight at 10 pm 16 comes to me & says a friend who just got her licence is coming to get her & they’re going out driving, how long can she stay out for? I looked at the clock & said half an hour, she wasn’t happy but didn’t argue too much, ( I get crabby fast, you want to argue about the amount of time I say you can forget about going at all) Next thing I hear is that the driving friend is staying overnight, not a big deal, they’re pretty quiet, I bitch if they’re not & she’s lost the privledge of having friends over for weeks & months previously because of not being quiet so she’s pretty respectful about that, when the friend arrived I said, since it was quarter past 10 & I’m a little caffeineated & probably won’t be able to fall asleep at 11 anyway, that she could stay out until 11 if she wanted. Well, as usual, nothings ever quite enough.
Not 15 minutes after she’s left the house, she’s calling me & asking me if she can stay out until midnight. No, she can’t. She then procedes to argue with me about why am I always such a bitch, never let her do what she wants, etc, etc, etc, the usual 16 year old rant, I remember it from when I was 16 myself, (& 15, 17 & 18 too) 15 minutes later (early I might add- just what I want, more of her!) she stomps in the house, tries to kill me with her eyes & marches upstairs, 2 minutes later she’s back in response to my question about where’s the other girl? Oh, she’s still staying the night, she’ll be here at midnight when her own, regular curfew at home is!
Oh hell no she isn’t, If I don’t want to stay up until midnight worrying about where she is what makes her think I want to do so for her friend? Not a big deal according to her, I don’t Need to worry about C, she’ll be really quiet when she gets here at midnight, she promised. Sure, & what if she doesn’t actually show up at midnight, what if she’s driven over a cliff? what if she doesn’t make a curve, I may not be from here, but when I got here I’d only had my licence for 4 months, I got my first car here in VA. In MA, I’d only been able to borrow my Mother’s & Friend’s Cars, I may have learned the basics, how to shift gears, brake & accelerate in my fathers VW Rabbit, but I really got my driving skills here & if that car hadn’t been a nearly dead 1978 Plymouth Arrow with a 4 cylinder engine, an automatic transmission & no power to get any speed up at all I’d probably have died the first week! The roads are curvy, slick when wet, people take the curves on the wrong side of the road & sometimes, on the side of the road, to the right, there’s a sheer drop, 15-20 feet is a small drop around here!
There was a guy, when my ex & I lived here & were getting ready to get married in 1993, who was on his way to work in Roanoke & never arrived, he was like, 50 or so at the time & neither he or the car turned up, they just assumed that he’d just left his live in girlfriend & gone somewhere else, though he didn’t take anything but his wallet & lunch for work. They found him & his car on a hillside, in 2002, he had gone off the side of the road, over the cliff & into trees & no one, looking over the side of the cliff could see the car. from where the body was they said he survived the crash but was pretty messed up, he got out of the car but was unable to get to the road & died in the woods by the car, 9 years to find him! That’s what it’s like here though, I think of it all the time, driving to & from work, going places with the kids- down to Roanoke on the occasional shopping trip, going to Chrissies house, there are crosses & other handmade memorials on many many curves where people have lost their lives & I seriously don’t want to be making a memorial to my kid on one of them.
Of course when you’re 16, you’re invincible, you don’t truly belive anything bad can happen to you, I know though, that it can & often does & though I try not to restrict her too much, I know all too well & can imagine all to easily all kinds of disasterous scenarios which could occour when she’s out.
I have no conclusions to draw, maybe I’m overprotective, maybe I’m not protective enough, you have to let them go a little, my banner on my cell phone reminds me of that every day… (or it tries to at least) it says : Root & Wings