One of the things that often gets me, with the kids, is the decisions. I don’t do decisions very well…Even if it’s a quick yes or no, it still takes me a bit of collaborating to decide. Especially if its important, and well, when it comes to the kids, just about everything is important. Of course, Im sure everyone knows that life is filled with decisions, split second decisions – left of right – up or down – this or that – here or there, and obviously I cant spent as much time as I would like making every decision there is to make…
But with the kids…its like life comes to a screeching halt when they ask me something. Or I have to make a decision for them. Or something closely related. Im pretty sure they take full advantage of this, choosing to by pass me altogether and make their own choices…which is ok, most times. But there is still the fact that Madison is only (yes only) thirteen. And Dylan is only twelve. And Josh is only six. And while they are able, for the most part, to make their own decisions, there are still the choices that get me hung up for a while.
Things that matter.
Im not talking what they wear in the morning, or what they pick for cereal. Although sometimes those seem to be life altering choices. I don’t mind if they decide things for themselves. Its part of growing up, and its ok. But there are some things that are still up to me, and things that I have to decide…and have to weigh out. Is this good, is it beneficial, will it hurt them, is this what their parents would have wanted for them…and on and on it goes.
Thankfully these sort of decisions are usually kept to a minimum of once a year – when I have to decide where they will go to school at. That’s usually where the decision making troubles end. But this past year it would seem, has been filled with more decision making than I care to admit to. Life changing decisions that are suppose to be made in split seconds – I wasn’t cut out for this.
“Can I play on the soccer team? Please? Please? PLEASE??” and Im forced to make a decision, forced to decide if Im willing to give up a year of evenings, spent in the rain, watching kids run through the mud attempting to score a goal. Im forced to decide if letting them spending a week at their grandparents will do more harm than good, or if it will benefit them in some way. Im forced to decide if “So and so” can come over and thus, take away any chance of any peace and quiet. Im forced to decide if I will enroll him in this class, put him through this therapy, or simply toss him out the window – all in the matter of minutes.
And somehow I end up saying yes to things I should say no to, and no to things I should say yes to and at night the decisions race through my mind with the right answer being wrong, and the wrong one being right, and always…I make the wrong choice.
Atleast that’s how it plays out in my mind.
A few weeks ago, Madison casually mentioned that she would be needing a few hundred dollars, her passport, and oh yea, my signature of consent. Now, I suppose, normally this wouldn’t get anyone’s attention. I mean, its completely normal to hand a few hundred dollars to a teenager – it would be anyones best guess where it went. But passport…and signature…I wondered what circus she was signing up for this time.
In two minutes flat she had the entire story laid out for me, front to back, cover to cover…she left no detail out…except the important ones.
She had taken it upon herself to say yes to a trip her youth group was going on. To Mexico. For ten days. With “Just friends” and a few adults to keep her safe.
My mind started trying to process it all…and I must have gotten the distant look on because she started to freak out on me “YOUR GOING TO SAY NO ARENT YOU! DON’T SAY NO! PLEASE DON’T SAY NO! I NEED TO DO THIS I NEED TO GO” and all the drama she could muster was thrown into the decision making process.
Eventually I went to a meeting, where I talked with the people involved. She was, apparently, the youngest of the group. The other kids were fifteen. Sixteen even. And then there was the fact that they were going to Mexico “Safe” I was told numerous times. And finally, the price tag.
I had to have a talk with Madison, a talk I really didn’t want to have. I would have said yes to avoid any such drama, and ear piercing screeching that can only come from a teenaged girl when faced with the word: No. I sometimes wonder whats worse, telling a two year old no, or a thirteen year old.
Either way, I had to have the prep talk with myself first. I had to line things out, carefully and strategically. I had to understand what I was saying, I had to be confident in my decision…even though I really wasn’t. I needed to know this was right, when I didn’t…because if she even sensed hesitancy in my voice, she would be all over me.
The thing is, most times I don’t know. I don’t know what way to go, where to turn next, and how to do any of this. This parenting gig is not my cup of tea (and I really don’t even like tea). I don’t do well with decisions, or confrontation and quite frankly this was both. I wavered a bit, wondering if I should just let her go…but the thought made me sick. And I knew I had to tell her no. Which made me equally sick.
To make matters worse, Madi had already helped with some of the fund-raising, fully convinced I would let her go.
I considered buying a ticket out of here, then calling and telling her, but I didn’t think she would take me serious.
And so it was. I had the first confrontation with her. The first talk in a while. I sat her down and told her my decision…but with it I made sure to tell her my reasons, and try and explain, why. I wanted to make sure she didn’t think she wasn’t worth it. That somehow money was an issue, or I didn’t trust her, or that because she didn’t tell me ahead of time…she couldn’t go. I didn’t want her to hate me, but sometimes in this game, you have to be hated…and I guess that’s ok too.
I told her that I wasn’t comfortable letting her go that far, at her age, with out anyone she knew really well (aka: family). He shoulders sagged and her lip puckered up…I told her that it wasn’t the money, that I would gladly spend any amount of money on her (it was $800, not just the $200 she had told me). I also told her that I would have liked some notice, but that wasn’t the reasoning either…and just when I thought I was going to loose her, I told her that her leader had told me she plans to take another trip next year – only in Alaska…to do the same kind of thing…and if it all worked out – I told her I felt better sending her north, in her country, for the first trip…plus it would help that she would be a year older by that time.
A few tears were shed, a few words exchanged, a few phrases such as “You dont TRUST me” were tossed about, but she was ok with the decision in the end…I think.
Its hard to tell sometimes, whats right and whats wrong. I don’t listen to my “Gut” for answers. I try to do what is best for the kids, in each situation…it takes a lot of time, and effort, and work, and concentration…but each decision is important. Each choice. Each one matters. I know they wont always be ok with what I decide, and that’s ok too.
I just hope that the decisions that are made, are the best for them. Or in this case…for her…