Our children grow up. It seems one day we are holding them in our arms, rocking them to sleep, and BOOM! Next they are chatting via facebook with their boyfriend. At thirteen. Oh, and he’s three grades ahead of her.
That was my weekend.
In all fairness, this is only my step-daughter. I only held her on my lap once and rocked her to sleep, when she was four. I only played countless hours of house, beauty shop, and restaurant with her. I only bought her shoes and clothes and her first bra…. wait. I digress. This was before I became the evil stepmother, of course. I’m evil for numerous reasons: I have rules, I hold people accountable (including their mother), I yell on occasion, and I am not an open checkbook. The horror of it all.
My husband (also evil) and I do not believe in electronic privacy of our teen children. Call us stalkers, lurkers, I don’t care. These are our children, and we know how scary that world is out there. We don’t have to look outside of our city walls to see girls victimized due to what started as one photo on a phone. We read stories about how cyber-bullying occurs – in our local school newsletter. It seems we lose a local child to suicide each semester in our surrounding areas, due to some level of this. We watch news stories of how they caught some drug dealer by monitoring their facebook account.
Want a facebook account? Cool – what is your password? Want a cell phone? No problem. Don’t delete your texts. We will do that for you. Oh and yeah, I did check the number of texts on your phone versus how many showed up on the phone bill. Yes it took FOREVER, but we are glad you didn’t lie and delete any (or oops, busted – no texting for a month). Hey, I see you have a Twitter account. Did you ask to do that? Obviously not, with THAT screen name. Buh-BYE online world for a while. Muzy? What the heck is that? Great, now I gotta watch that, too?
Unfortunately, the rules at our house are not the same at the other house, where they live most of the time. This house is ruled with the big D- DENIAL. This is how seventh graders get tenth graders for boyfriends. This is how twitter accounts evolve with words and comments that would get me fired at my job. Somewhere along the way, the overcompensation because of an abuse-filled childhood and a divorce has turned into a crusade of being the “cool” mom. She doesn’t control them. She doesn’t make them upset. She gets to be the good guy. Sure, I’ll buy you both iPods. Don’t tell your Dad. So we have a (then) 11 year old with access to the internet completely unmonitored. We have a 15 year old who is bribed to move back “home” with the promise of an iPod (and most likely a threat that they will lose their house if we take them to court to lower child support). He has no bed or room, and they can’t afford to fix the roof that has had a tarp on it for over a year, but wow do they all have cool iPhones, iPods, and nice Jordan shoes. Hmm… and a son that looks and talks like a high gang member on Twitter, saying crap to girls, that if it was MY daughter, I’d be at their house telling them how proud they should be for raising such a white trash kid. Why aren’t their parents tracking us down, asking us this? I digress yet again…
Yes, these are “my” kids. I still claim them. I even love them. They aren’t little enough to sit on my lap. I’ve known this for a long time. I know they are not mine, but that really isn’t why I’m not in this whole “denial” thing. I am just not that kind of person. It’s not that I want them to grow up, but they do. It’s my job to help them through this time, not put a bag over my head and say, “My kid isn’t going to do (fill in the blank).” Oh, MY CHILD will be leading the pack. My kid will lead them all: not sure if it’s down the road to destruction or to heaven above. I’m hoping for the latter, not the former. I’m doing more than hoping and praying – but I do a lot of praying. I try to teach him right from wrong. I try to let him know there are bad things that happen, without completely terrifying him. I know the days of him sitting on my lap are about over (he’s five)I will miss them – no, I will grieve when those end – but I will not be in denial about it. There is too much at risk to spend time wishing my little boy was back or denying the truth staring me in the face. He is worth more to me than that. I wish my other children’s mother loved her kids that much. I do, but my love doesn’t count.