Posted by: Lizabeta | July 11, 2008


You’ll have to forgive me for taking so long to write my own self assigned assignment. I was working on an essay about my driving anxieties and got majorly sidetracked by life. My teenage daughter, normally a mild mannered, high achieving, organized and all around well balanced daughter was discovered drinking and making out with some boys recently. Dissapointed, angry, scared for her… those do not begin to describe the feelings that went through us.

Scared for her is the overwhelming emotion. Anger and occasional disspointment are a given when it comes to parenting. Scared for your child is an emotion that you try to put into the background. Worried for your child as they learn to walk and occasionally fall down, but you stuff your fear back and let them take those steps. Your heart races as they learn (and think its funny) to run away from you. You heart stops when that direction is a busy street. Excitement, sadness and a little bit of fear accompany you, like a uninvited third party, down the hall on the way to the first day of school. Your Kindgartener’s tiny hand in yours, both of you gripping tightly to each other.

The fear is pushed back, though worry for your kids is a constant background presence. Let it overwhelm and you live a life of anxiety and create unhealthy children. You have to let them take those steps, learn how to use a sharp knife, how to wash dishes without breaking them. You have to learn, eventually, how to let them out of your sight… how to trust them.

My daughter, in the middle of this hullabaloo, accused us of driving her to it by not ever truely trusting her. A child’s view of the world. We have the gall to ask where she is going, what she is doing and when she is coming back. Even roommates generally let each other know such things. I explained that we have not checked up on her in person. We don’t track her through various GPS devices you can purchase. As an A student, when she says she’s done her homework I don’t demand to see it. She’s earned that trust. I don’t nag her in her chores, because she does them on her own. She couldn’t really give me any other examples of why she doesn’t feel trusted.

Up until this point, my dear, it was not you that I didn’t trust. It was the rest of the world. Up until this point, you have made good choices, you have earned our trust and the privledges that go along with it. You’ve had it, until you blew it, then lied about it. It was the rest of the world I did not trust to treat you well. And you, with only 15 short years of experience with people who love you, cannot understand that the rest of the world will not be as kind with you. Our questions, precautions, concerns were because we love you. We stifled our fears, knowing you would have to grow up and break away, and let you out… because you had earned that trust. Just like we stayed silent that first day of school. Just like we didn’t cry out, “Just let me cut it for you,” while taking over the knife. We let you.

We find out she was drinking and making out with a boy on a dare. A boy that she did not want to be making out with.  It was like watching the two year old run onto the freeway and not be able to stop them. By some miracle, she was not hurt… this time. Laughing on the other side of four lanes, she felt she had got away with something. But she hadn’t. She’s busted. Grounding is useless, a punishment that is helpful for backtalking… at this point would only have her ticking off days till it was done. And truely, I know that if she is determined to make bad choices, I cannot stop her. I cannot lock her up day and night, dragging her from class to class. She will have ample opportunity between now and moving out to make choices for herself, good or bad.

And so, her punishment is primarily education. Research and reports on alcohol, blood alcohol levels (a cup of rum in a 98lb body and she thinks she was in control of her faculties), the risk of alcoholism in young drinkers. Another report on date rape drugs, gang rape and mob mentality or “How things go from good to terrible in a group of people and why no one steps in to stop it.” She will also be experiencing observed random drug testing between now and exiting high school. “I cannot stop you from making bad choices. But I will catch you.”

In three anxious days between knowing she was busted and receiving her punishment from her Four Parent Unit (dad, stepmom, mom and stepdad) she was quite despondent. I’m sure she felt like her life was going to be over. And so we return full circle to the Fear. The graphics were drawn on her whiteboard before we went to meet with her mom and stepdad. Before she heard the Punishment. From her mom’s house, she left for grandmas for two weeks. She was actually in a very good mood post-sentencing. She had a number of Ah-Ha moments of understanding that evening. From how we actually had trusted her (past tense), to how much we love her and were scared for her, to finding out that we do have boundaries and we will enforce them… she seemed to feel a lot better.

Unhappy times

Unhappy times

But I walked back into her room and I find these horrible notes. Good bye forever, bullet to the heart, life is over, suicide=totally…    and the panic strikes me. The Fear. The Fear above all Fears.

I’ve been assured by the Other Half of our parental unit that no such notes or indications were made at the Other house. But no chances… she’ll be getting professional help shortly. If it was an attempt at pity to get us to lighten the sentence… well, that’s not going to work since we see the sentence as light to begin with. (No bedroom door, no internet access, and standard grounding for one month. Three months of friends at our house only. Random drug testing. And most importantly, the reports.) It could be a real cry for help, and a professional can help with that.

There are some fears you can push back, swallow, hold your breath. This isn’t one of them.



  1. What a moving post.

    Does your daughter know you blogged about all this? I’m curious as to her response . . .

  2. Tysdaddy, No… She is still at her Grandmothers house and I have not even had a chance to ask her about her whiteboard. Aside from that, she would be mortified to find I had posted this on the internet. Hence, my complete use of pronouns in all my posts.

    My posts are generally written for my own sake. Like a pensieve from Harry Potter. A way to make room in my brain for other things.

    Of course… part of her research on Internet Safety will be to find someone on the internet. If she brainstorms hard enough, and searches well…
    she might be able to find me here.

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