Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dealing with the Teenager Issues

So Friday night Alex got invited to go to the football game with a group of kids. I could tell she didn't want to go, and as much as I wanted to MAKE her go, I guess I knew the feeling and told her that if she didn't go, she needed to make a real effort to go next time. She agreed. Fast forward to Saturday after her soccer game. She has tentative plans to spend the night with a friend when her friend is done babysitting around 9:00. While I don't think that's necessarily ideal, it's okay with me. I like her friend a lot and trust her family. While she's hanging around watching T.V., two of her soccer friends call and say they are riding their bikes to visit at our house. That's cool. Then Alex invites the neighbor down to hang out with them, also. Again, cool.

Then it's starting to get to dinnertime, and while I don't mind that she has friends over, I actually wasn't planning on feeding three extra teenagers. While I'm trying to decide how to handle this, our neighbor invites the girls to go swimming with him and his friends that night. Alex calls me while I'm at the grocery store, after having finally given in and deciding to buy pizza for everyone, and asks if I can "swing by" one of the girls' house and pick up her swim stuff. Um, no, I'm at the opposite side of town. Also, what are they going to do with their bikes? If her mom could bring her stuff and pick up her bikes, I will take them home after the swimming. Good plan. Her mom comes over and gets the bikes and everyone is ready to go swimming. I hand Alex $10 bucks and tell her to bring home change. Uh, well, the other two girls need money, also. FINE. I took back the ten and gave her a twenty, the whole time telling myself that I will take them home at 9:30.

9:20 and they are home. They run in the door past me arguing about who gets the first shower. Wait a minute, I'm taking the girls home. Oh, no, we called their moms and they're going to stay here. See, I guess because I am usually so cool about that stuff that I always let her, she almost feels like she doesn't need to ask. I didn't want to make a scene, but I made a mini one anyway. I told her I was kind of mad because she knew we were going to try a new church on Sunday.

Anyway, the kids spend the night. They hang out at the local grade school until 11:00, when I made them come home. Then they hung out on the trampoline until midnight when I made them come in. It's all fine. She's done it before. We've never had a neighbor complaint or anything. I do like being the "hanging-out" house, somewhat. I mean, I'd rather see what she's doing here than wonder (or not) what she's doing somewhere else. But I just felt totally railroaded with this incident.

This morning I told her I'd be taking the girls home after church. When I got home, I was told Alex had done her soccer homework and her other homework already and that the girls had called their moms and were going to stay longer. Part of me wants to pull her aside and tell her, No, this time I'm taking the kids home. Part of me is fine that they're here, because they're outside again, hanging out with the neighbor. If she was here alone, she'd be on the computer or watching T.V. on the couch. Plus I like that she's gotten to be friends with our neighbor, a really nice GUY. I know she's not nearly ready to date or talk boyfriends, but I do want her to know that she can be friends with guys. I'm sure if she were home alone, she wouldn't be hanging out with him by herself.

So we need to have a TALK. I'm not mad, I just don't want to be taken advantage of like that again, not that any of them thought they were doing that. I guess, after watching The Secret Life of the American Teenager, it could be worse.

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