Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Damn, but this Instant Parent business is hard.

Older Girl had just walked out of her room three nights ago, when I noticed that her eyes were red from crying. She tried to insist that it was her eye makeup remover, but I knew better. I put my arm around her and took her into my bedroom so we could talk privately. She sat in my arms and started crying. "I'm just going to end up going back to live with my parents and will have to deal with the drama again. All of this will be for nothing."

Oh boy, plenty of emotional landmines to navigate on this one.

I told her that she was old enough to make her own decision on where she wanted to live, and we would support her with whatever she chose to do. If she decided to stay with us through high school (we'd already talked about this on the first day she arrived - it was her idea) that I would "go to the mat" to make that happen. Any mediator or judge would listen to her reasons because of her age (she's 15). She replied that she wanted to stay with us but she didn't want to "ruin her parents life." My heart broke into a thousand pieces when she said this. Her parents ignore her, put her in charge of raising Sweet Girl (because they frequently don't get out of bed for 3 whole days), they fight and cry and throw things all of the time (from being drunk and high on speed) and they don't take care of even her basic needs. This poor kid has done it all by herself. And yet here she is...a truly good kid who doesn't want to hurt them. Just kill me now.

So we then had a discussion about how the choices her parents make (speed, alcohol, abuse...) are the causes of their issues. She has every right to choose to not live in that environment and we would support her all the way.

It was a great chat, though it left me with a heavy heart. I want to "do right" by everyone involved and not screw my in-laws. But at the same time, they are the ones that are screwing their kids.

The next night, Older Girl was sobbing when she ran into my arms. She was crying so hard she couldn't speak. I just held her for a time and then began to ask questions. Is it Austin? No. Did you just talk with your mom? No. Are you lonely? No.

One of her friends was killed when a driver hit his car head-on. He was killed instantly when the roof of the car collapsed and broke his neck.

He was 17 years old.

For the first time in almost a year, I had to shift out of my own grief and try to help Older Girl with the shock, disbelief and utter lack of "fairness" over this kind of outcome.

I don't think I did very well.

Yesterday was Older Girl's first day at school. After I picked her up, I asked about the day and if she'd met anyone who would become a friend. Several kids made the cut...but she also said that she'd met a lot of mean people.

One girl pointed to her in the hallway and said, "Look at that ugly girl." Older Girl just kept walking and didn't react or respond.

I offered to go kick that girl's butt. Older Girl declined.

She obviously handled that situation much better than I.

Crickey. This is like parenthood by fire. I'm learning how to deal with a teenager on a daily basis - and trying to be hip but definitely maintaining the boundaries for what's acceptable behaviour and what is not. Dealing with the emotional baggage from the horrible things she's seen with her parents is tough. I love this girl with all of my heart and would do anything for her. I just need to keep reaching inside myself to find the right answers and do my best.

I really want to do this right.