Today we continue the story of our guest poster — of what happens when you teen takes matters into their own hands — with part II of the Dark Side of Parenting a Teenager. If you missed part I, you can read it here.
As mentioned in my introduction last week, I never thought I would be in the position to talk about raising a teen that tried to cause harm to their being. The one we waited for nine long months to arrive, who is smart, kind, funny and beautiful inside and out, the one who has brought joy into this house for 17 years.
And the glasses set upon my face are by no means rose colored in any way – there have certainly been moments that are not joyful, fun or pretty. Limits have been tested, eyes rolled, doors slammed and at times the words slung in the parental direction have been downright mean. That is just part of growing up and comes with the territory. We know trying to find one’s own personal way is hard, especially in today’s world. We do not take it personally. Wings need to be stretched, whether we are ready for it or not.
Our oldest is a senior in high school and the youngest a sophomore, which means my husband and I are staring right at the empty nest. Our conversations over the past summer have circled around college, career plans and if this is indeed our “forever” home.
While discussing if we should eventually move to the mountains or beach when we retire, our oldest and child two friends interrupted our “pro/con” list-making asking if the friends could whisk our child off to a graduation party. Something felt off, but I could not put my finger on what it was. We said ok, and as I watched the car pull away, I noticed something was not right: The face in the back seat looked vacant and unhappy, which prompted an audible, “huh.”
I sent a text:
“You looked sad in the car. If you really don’t want to go to the party, just text me in 20 min & I’ll pick you up. You can blame me.”
The response was:
“No! I’m ok. Sorry I forgot to tell you about the party – thought it was next weekend. Thanks for letting me go.”
I returned to my husband, sharing my concern. We both thought it was just the attitude of the day and the friends they were with. We finished our conversation, and then went back into the house to cook dinner. It is here at this moment that hindsight allows the knowledge; from this point on, life will be different.
The phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number and almost did not answer it, but I did. It was the mother of the graduate. To this day, I still do not know her name, but she did tell me in her introduction. She was calling to let me know they summoned an ambulance for my child and wanted to know what hospital they should go to.
Wait a minute.
“What? What is going on? Why did you call an ambulance?” I heard my voice say.
Next came the scream of my husband’s name. Dual conversations began to happen in rapid succession, needed addresses and directions, my husband in the background calling our child’s cell phone to ask what was happening. Yelling to our youngest that we needed to leave, to please make sure the stove was off. Barely grabbing my purse and shoes, we raced to the car and sped off to arrive just behind the ambulance.
The EMT met me halfway across the front lawn and began to rattle off questions and preferences of hospitals. The shock frozen to my face must have been the reason for his features to soften and patiently run through his words once more, slower, softer and concerned, providing the verbal crutch my psyche most definitely needed.
Was I aware of the pills?
Pills? We have nothing more than Zyrtec and Motrin. We don’t really take medicine.
Do not worry, the bleeding was not too bad and the cuts would be attended to at the hospital.
Cuts? We just came home from a beach vacation. What cuts?
Friends were worried about cryptic messages of “I’m sorry,” and came to the rescue of my child who was only feet from me just an hour before.
How can I be in the middle of a sea of strangers who know more about my child than I do? I’m the one who knows the morning pancake preference is banana chocolate chip. I know which Harry Potter saga is the favorite. I know which friends are mean and judgey. I know when my child is happy or sad.
Yet, I don’t.
I’m here, in this fog of what the hell is going on, trying to figure out why I’m in a car following an ambulance, carrying my first born to a hospital and wondering how I completely failed as a parent.
Every scenario raced through my mind. What did we miss? What did I miss? I’m the mom. I should know these things. Was our parenting too strict? Did we praise enough? Did we listen enough? Did we support enough?
The only thing I knew in that very instant that we did do right was we loved enough.
And we prayed it would be enough to get us through the next eight hours.
Join us next week for part III.