She is in tears
. She has been wandering around in the night, "thinking
". I recognize this method. I use it, wandering aimlessly while my thoughts battle it out from within
. I bring her out into the night. We sit on one of the beach chairs with a blanket over us, her on my lap with her head on my shoulder as if she were five and not twelve. She sighs as the tears roll down.
"I don't know what to do, Mommy. I'm questioning my vegetarianism."
She is questioning herself already. I know that feeling well.
"In class today the teacher said that vegetarians die before the rest of the population because they are not eating healthy well balanced meals. We watched a video that told us how to be healthy. Mom, I don't want to die. I must not be healthy and maybe my reasons for not eating meat aren't so good."
Suddenly, I'm angry with the teacher for presenting such a one sided argument. I'm longing for her old teacher that encouraged her by making her research how to be healthy.
"Honey, you are healthy. We have you checked out every time we go to the doctor's. Don't worry about that. It's fine that you're a vegetarian. You don't think I researched this idea of yours when you first came to me with it? If I thought you would be in danger, I would not have allowed you the choice."
"I just don't think it's right to eat animals. I don't like the idea of breeding others for food. We're all creatures on this earth. I don't want to be a part of that. It makes me feel bad. But on the other hand I don't want to be sick and die. I don't know what to do. Make the decision for me Mommy. Tell me I have to eat meat or tell me I'm not allowed too. Tell me what to do"
Ah, she is tortured by this, tears are flowing freely down her cheeks. I am transported back in time to my own childhood. I was not given a choice about much of anything. I make a decision.
"I can't make that decision for you. Only YOU can decide what is right for you. It is your choice. Don't feel you have to change just because one person put a doubt in your mind. If you want to go back to eating meat, we will not judge you. If you want to remain a vegetarian, that's ok too. We will support whatever choice you pick, but it is up to you. I will not tell you what to do."
"I don't know what to do" she sobs into my shoulder.
I feel a heel for not ending her dilemma. Snapping my fingers and saying NO would end it right there and absolve her of her own guilt. My own mother would be thrilled to no end because she has said all along that I was wrong to let her make the choice to be vegetarian in the first place, that I was making a big mistake as a parent. The thought of that keeps me firm in my resolve.
Honey, you must do what you think is right. It's part of growing up, making choices. If I tell you what to do, it will be too easy for you to get out of making important decisions later on in life. I'll get you whatever information you need, but it's up to you, K?
She wipes her eyes and hugs me. "K mommy. Can you find me a book about the healthy vegetarian woman?"
That I will do for her, and anything else I can think of to help her make her decision without taking that choice away from her...
He is getting some "only child" time. It doesn't happen too often, the other two are almost always around. He wants to talk about something.
"There's a guy at the pool that keeps staring at Sally's chest."
My alert button has been pushed.
"What are you talking about?"
"When she's swimming and I'm watching her, I've noticed this man staring at her. She doesn't know, I don't want to tell her, but I make her get in the water so she's covered up by that"
"Has he tried to talk to her?"
"No, he just watches her, I don't like how he looks at her"
"And you haven't told her this man is watching her?"
"And make her self conscious and worried? NO, I'm just gonna keep an eye on her and keep that jerk away"
I am debating not allowing her without the watchful eye of myself at the pool anymore. Or if she does go, only letting her wear one piece suits with shorts and a T-shirt covering her and maybe even a huge sign with the words "JAIL BAIT" printed in bright red letters on her back. I am debating keeping her locked away to protect her from all the crud that goes on that she doesn't see yet but that her brother has become aware of. He is becoming cynical/concerned at "almost" 15. She still has fresh eyes.
His friend is in jail. He is upset but doesn't know what to say. He talked to him on the phone, his friend's mother snuck in the conversation. His friend was afraid that he would hate him for what he did.
" I don't hate you, I just don't understand. you're still my friend"
He can't go to the jail to see him because he is under 18. His friend is 19 but I forget that. He is the same size and acts just like my son. Some say I was unwise letting them pal around together. Though they don't say it's unwise when the 15 yr old pals around with the 9 yr olds here. Seems a double standard to me. His friend is in a lot of trouble because of his hormones. Specifically, he's been picked up on "statutory" charges. His girlfriend is 15.
My son is confused about the whole thing. We have to explain the legalities. We have to have... "THAT TALK" with him. (The talk I never had with my parents because they didn't want to know). He has noticed the large amounts of young parents here too. Kids as parents. He says he's not doing ANYTHING like that until he's married well after college, he doesn't even LIKE girls yet, then he covers his ears with his hands. "I don't want to know! I don't want to have sex!" We tell him anyway. It's a fact of life. He needs to know and I don't want him learning it on the streets. His friend is in jail because of this. His friend's life is turned upside down because of this. We don't want to scare him off, but he already is. SEX equals JAIL to him now. We try to tell him that it's ok, that it's normal for teenagers to experiment. Hormones run amuck and there is nothing wrong with that, just be informed of all the consequences and be protected if he decides to experiment. Sex isn't a bad thing. He doesn't want to know.
We have screwed this up royally in the parent department I fear.
I worry every time I see a 16 year old pregnant girl picking out clothes at the store. It appears the NORM in this city not the exception. His friend may very well be a father soon because he didn't think about the consequences. His girlfriend will be a mother. TOO YOUNG! They grow up too young here and the other adults just shrug their shoulders, shake their heads, and say "oh well, it's too bad", but they don't talk to their kids and give them the information they need to make smart choices.
Is this the age when innocence started to disappear for me too? It's a fine line I'm walking with this parenthood thing. Nobody gave me a Dr. Spock book on the teen years.
Nobody gave me an outline or a training manual. I didn't get a degree in parenting. I'm making this up as I go, winging it, hoping like hell I don't fall off the wire taking one of them with me. How to keep them safe yet let them grow? How to do this while not screwing them up in the process? I don't have the answers. I constantly question my own parenting skills wondering how much of it I do only because it is what my parents would not do? I can only act the way I wish my parents had acted and hope it's the right thing to do. Only time will tell. Until then, I'll keep my eyes straight ahead, hold my arms out, and put one foot cautiously ahead of the other on the wire, trying to find some balance between encouraging independence and keeping them safe.
I hope I don't mess this up