Sunday, 28 February 2010

So what do you do when it's your kids that scare you ?

A disturbing revelation was made when I was talking to my daughter on
the phone on Friday night. It transpires that on Thursday evening, my 10
year old daughter took it upon herself, and against her mothers
permission to walk to the centre of town, on her own.

It's one of the few times in my life when I've been short of words, when
I really don't know what to say. I got off the phone, and as it
happened, was at a train station at the time. It was all I could do to
stop myself from bursting into tears there and then.

When we are teenagers, we take much stock from knowing how painful it is
to grow up, how constantly pushing and shoving to find your place in an
already crowded world takes energy and passion, (just as well that it's
the teenagers doing it, because the rest of us seem to surrender ours
with every passing year). What I hadn't, of course counted on, was the
hurt and pain of being utterly scared out of my wits and not knowing
what to do for the best. There are no manuals that prepare you for this.
Are there ? If there are, perhaps a visit to the library is in order.

I feel bad, that because my daughter spends so much more time with her
mother than she does with me, she is getting more than the lion share of
this behaviour. I've had some before, but I can't think that it is nice
for anyone to be living in that sort of situation day in, day out.

There was about an hour on Thursday night when, technically, my daughter
was missing, and I knew nothing about it. Anything could have happened
to her.

Thankfully, despite her best attempts to catch up with her, or locate
her, my daughter's mum got a call from our daughter, telling her where
she was, and asking her to come collect her.

I can't even imagine how that must have felt for her. It's every parents
worst nightmare. I wanted to let her know that we are going through this
together, and that she is not alone in this.

Sometimes we are utterly powerless to stop events, prevent them, and can
only hope that things turn out and deal with the aftermath in a very
reactive way.

I tried to get my daughter to explain to me over the phone what it was
that made her think that doing such a thing was a good idea. She was
very sheepish and wasn't really inclined to tell me what had motivated
her. Not the type of conversation that is best had on a dodgy mobile
connection. What I really wanted to do at that point was to go round
there, not to have a go at my daughter by to try and understand why she
had done it. I also wanted to see for myself that her mother was ok.

Luckily for her, she lives very close to her parents, so will have them
to fall back on. There are people around her that can help, it only
remains to be seen how much she wants to accept the help that is

It also means that they have been the target of some more behaviour. She
won't tell me exactly what it is that our daughter has been saying to
her grandparents, only that it is rude and disrespectful. It's not a lot
to go on, but having overheard her shouting that 'they deserve it' when
we are trying to discuss it tells me that it's something more than
talking back or being cheeky.

And there's more.

Our daughter, communicated her feelings towards her mother the other
night (I think this occurred the same night that the 'walk' did) by
emptying the contents of the cat litter tray into her bed, for her to
find when she went to bed.

Where the hell does that come from ?

The questions that remain for me... what is it that causing her to
behave in this manner ? What's going on in her head that makes her think
these actions are a good idea, or at the very least the course of action
she should be taking.

Our daughter is clearly strong willed, she is clever, intelligent,
witty, funny.... how do you allow those attributes to grow into the
strengths that will be the hallmark of her personality as she gets
older, without welcoming the serious risk taking that comes along with
such traits ?

When I was a child, I was strong willed, if I believed something to be
right, no one could tell me otherwise. I don't think that has entirely
changed, I have learnt though to be more open to challenge from others,
and to be better (although I wouldn't say good) at justifying my
position. If you're way's better, don't just tell me mine is rubbish,
help me to see why yours is better than mine, and I will recognise that
and change my opinion accordingly.

There's a lot of stuff in the press lately about Gordon Brown being
'bloody minded'. Do we really only want or need people that are 'fluffy'
and willing to be swayed by every single weak argument that panders to
an ever swaying consensus of opinion, which changes with the breeze and
is dictated to by the random selection of people that just happen to be
in the room at the time. Do we need people that are something to all
people, or do we need people with depth. Character, individuality.

The difference between arrogance and being right, is...well, being
right. Trouble is most people don't like to be confronted with people
that are right, and very right at that.

I want our daughter to be free to be her own person, I want her to make
a mark on the world in all the good ways I know she can. I'm so
desperately proud of some of the things she says, some of the things she
comes out with, or her ways of looking at things are brilliant, and
amazing. I know that I am biased, but her teachers have said before that
they cannot believe that she is the age she is, because she comes out
with such insightful things.

Is she angry at the world because she feels it is holding her back ? I'm
trying to find excuses now, when there can be none for the way she has
behaved, but to prevent her feeling that the only way to get people to
stop and listen to her is to behave like that again, I need to
understand her.

She's such a fantastic person, I'm just frightened that if she carries
on doing things like this, she's not going to get the chance to grow up
and show us all how good she really is.

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