Alyssa started 10th grade on Monday. This year is more easy to believe than last year. She is complety a high schooler and I think I’ve come to terms with that. She is a smart, beautiful girl who, as far as I know, has made some good decisions up to this point.
On Monday night I told her to finish up her kitchen chores and get to bed. She was upstairs for a while and I walked to her side to make sure she was in bed and all electronics and lights were off. Lo and behold she was standing in her doorway texting. I took the phone and told her to go to bed. Every so often I will take her phone and read the text messages. I used to do this more when she was in middle school, but as I said, I still do it from time to time. I’d never discovered anything inappropriate or even remotely interesting in the past. Typical teenage girl stuff (i.e. boy band crap, mall shopping, and movie watching).
Monday night changed all of that. I initially read all the texts between her and her “best” friend. Nothing interesting. I literally think all they talk about with each other is One Direction and volleyball. It is very weird to me, but anyway. Then I went to a conversation with one of the girls that lives in our old neighborhood. She was a part of the crew of them that walked home together. It didn’t take long before I read a curse word. The girl injected the F-word into a sentence for no other reason than, what appeared to be, just saying it. I got upset immediately and thought about calling her mother.
I kept reading and then I saw that same F-word but this time my daughter used it. The context was one I’ll never forget “Chelsea why didn’t you tell me about the Grandpa. He is crazy, he F-ing ambushed them all.” I literally felt sick and tired at the same time. Like I needed to lay down or I was going to fall down. Then my eyes welled up with tears. I kept reading and she then used the word Hell…asking, “what the hell. Everyone is watching the show but me.” That was in reference to the VMAs. I furiously went through every single text message in her phone as far back as it allowed. Those were the only words I saw from her, and that friend was the only friend that had used such language as well.
Though this isn’t about me, I made it about me for about 20 minutes. I have never felt like such a failure as I did in that moment of reading the F word essentially coming from my daughter’s mouth. I have never fooled myself into thinking my daughter was perfect. But, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine her using vulgar language. Even when I used to curse a couple of years ago, I never cursed in front of her. I’ve always talked to her about the power of words and using positive ones, and using them for good. In the moments after reading the messages, I felt like somewhere I have failed her. I have led her astray. Then I got angry. Angry because I know that’s just not true.
I called her into my room and told her what I had discovered. She looked shocked. I told her I was disgusted and disappointed with her language. I asked her why she used such words? Of course her response was “I don’t know.” After me asking and her answering the same way 3 times, I finally told her, and I meant every word, that I was going to get a belt and give her the beating of her life if she didn’t start being honest and explaining why she was using that language. She went on to tell me that everyone uses those words, so she did too. She also tried to make me believe that she has never said the words out loud only through texting. I wanted to fight her. Not whip her, but literally fight her. I think I only saw red. I have never in my life been so angry toward my own child.
For her to stand there and tell me that she was doing something because everyone else is doing it, made me want to fight, cry, retreat, and invade her school all at the same time. After spending everyday of her life encouraging her to be a leader, SHOWING her how to lead and not follow, and she tells me that in fact she is following. I had to remember again that this is not about me…she is 15 and this is about HER and the choices she is making.
I told her soon everyone will be drinking, trying drugs, having sex, and the like…is she going to do that, too. I reminded her that her choices will result in her consequences, not mine or anyone elses. I told her that the older she gets, the less I can rescue her from bad decisions. I reminded her how young ladies are to carry themselves (in writing and in speech). We talked about following versus standing a part and leaning on what’s right, not what feels right. I told her that my trust in her is not only broken, but it is gone. If I can’t trust her with her words, I surely can’t trust her with her actions outside of my sight. So, she no longer has a phone indefinitely and she cannot do anything without Mr. RFA or I being present unless she is at school.
My husband was shocked that SHE, our seemingly sweet little girl, would use that language. And, he is the guy that thinks teenagers are doing everything they have no business doing. Nothing about today’s youth shocks him, but he, too, was shocked by her. After his shock wore off, he tried to calm me and convince me that I was reacting from anger and hurt. Maybe I was and still am, and I’m okay with that. There is a lesson in my anger and hurt that she will have to learn from. He told me to remember my language at 15…my mom told me the same thing. The difference is my mom didn’t give me any consequences. She was too busy trying to be my homegirl. I’m raising Alyssa to find out before she is 20-something that every choice has a consequence (good or bad).
To some this may just seem like typical teenager antics, but to me this is a gateway to more poor decisions merely in the name of following the crowd. I DO NOT want her thinking that something is normal, acceptable, appropriate because everyone is doing it. We talk about that all the time. I tell her that the world makes so many things seem acceptable, but she has to discern right from wrong from trendy to appropriate. She has been given all the tools and the proper foundation, but now it’s time for her to use the sense she has… not shelve it to go with the crowd.
As a mother, my ego is bruised…it is downright shattered. But, more than that I hurt for my baby. I remember being a teenager and doing the dumbest of things. Much of them were done because my friends did them and made them look fun and appealing. The world was more forgiving when seventeen years ago when I was 15. I NEED her to understand and believe that only she can suffer her consequences. That consequences are real, and that bad ones are mostly avoidable if she does the right thing. That she can have a fun life without using poor language and making reckless decisions. That I DEMAND better from her and God expects the same.