Not too long ago, I wrote a blog concerning the Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why, (a show about teen suicide) which I recommended viewing. Since then, there has been a lot of backlash against the program, primarily for the show’s failure to list a suicide prevention hotline for teens considering suicide to call, in addition to the ease and popularity of viewing this TV-MA program among teenagers; without parental supervision. My doll and I watched the show together, which led to a broader discussion about the maturity of teenagers problem solving skills. In doing so, we’ve also been able to keep an open dialogue between us-which I treasure and consider a blessing to us both.
“Mom, I need to talk to you!” My doll said as she opened the door to me early Saturday morning. I had just walked home from my parish festival, after having volunteered all evening. “What’s going on?” I asked. “Mom, there’s this boy from my class….” She began and for a moment I blanked out. “A boy, what the..?” before regaining my composure and asked her to start over, quipping, “You’re talking too fast for your old mom to keep up. Now slow down and start over…” She looked back hard at me and asked, “Have you been drinking?” “Water? Yes. Beer? Yes–Lot’s of both? No. Now start over…” I implored and directed her to join me at the kitchen table where we could share a more intimate conversation.
“Okay, there’s this boy in my class who…” and again, my mind began to swirl, but instead of getting lost in my thoughts, I re-engaged in the conversation, “I don’t think has too many friends…” she said.”Was he in any of your classes?” I asked. “No, I only saw him in the hallway, when we changed classes, but, I never saw him talk with anyone, so I began saying “Hi” to him, whenever we passed each other.” My heart smiled knowing I have a caring daughter who’s still adhering to the promise she made to herself, upon entering High School: to not be so shy. “In any case, we became ‘friends’ on Instagram over the course of the year and talk every once in a while, more about animals than anything-he has a cat; until today when he sent me an invitation to attend a pool party he’s throwing next Saturday.” She explained.
Finally, the dilemma quickly came into focus…
“Okay…” I replied tentatively before asking, “Do you want to go?” “I don’t know…” She replied with an exasperated tone. “Doll?” I began again, “Do you consider him a friend or more an acquaintance?” I asked. “I mean I think he’s nice, but, I don’t know him very well so he’s more of an acquaintance than not. Yet we are friends on “Instagram,” She waffled. “So I’m not sure where he sees me. And, if he doesn’t have many friends and built up the courage to ask me and I say no…I don’t want him to think I don’t like him too…” She rattled off. “Doll….wait, you can’t worry about that… ” I said and she gave me back an odd look.
Reading her face I wondered if there was more subtext going on than just attending a pool party. “So, you’re not sure if he has any friends, right? I asked. “Well, I know he’s in the band…” She said. “Okay, that’s good, then his band mates should account for something. What about your friend in the band, why don’t you ask her about him?” “I did and she said he’s ‘okay’ but that she really didn’t know him very well..” “Oh…” I replied. “So you see my problem?” She asked. “Doll, just because you haven’t seen any evidence of friends, does not mean he doesn’t have any… however, I get what your saying,” I replied. “Mom, he just comes off as an introspective person and if this is his way to reach out and try to make friends, I don’t want to be the one who shuts down his self esteem…” “Doll, you are not allowed to be responsible for him if you turn down his invitation. That’s not fair to anyone, especially you,” I said and then added, “And if you need a good excuse, blame me and say your mom won’t let you da….” I started but was immediately interrupted, “Whoa!! I said nothing about a date!” She scolded.
“Doll, remember, I’ve had a few drinks here, okay? Sometimes my semantics are out of whack, ” I returned, adding, “So let’s try this again. You tell this boy you’re mother is uncomfortable with you attending a pool party at a boy’s home -especially one she doesn’t know. In addition, tell him ‘She doesn’t let me do anything without having a trusted friend with me’–see there is power in numbers doll. Then ask him if there are any girls you might know who will be attending, or better yet, ask if you could bring a girl friend along too? You see, that way it’s not you saying “no” to him, it’s me. Then when and if you can’t find a girlfriend who’s going or wants to go with you, you have a reason to say, “Sorry, my mom won’t let me. What do you think?”
She didn’t answer for a few minutes, weighing the good and bad in my proposition. “What if…” She began, but I shut her down. “What if nothing. In the morning, send him a text using me and then we’ll cross the next bridge when we come to it,” I said.
Then our conversation changed, while she considered her options. “Here let me show you what he looks like…” She said, pulling up his Instagram profile on my laptop. “Oh he’s a good looking kid…” I said and she replied, “He’s not ugly, but not really my type…he has a pensive personality…” “Well, there is nothing wrong with that…” I replied as our conversation meandered toward something else. After a spell, I glanced over at the clock and saw the time had advanced to 2:30 am and announced, “Doll, we need to go to bed-you’re dad’s going to be up soon and wondering what the heck we’re doing…” “Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize it was this late…” She added. As we stood to leave the kitchen, we hugged and she said, “Thanks for talking this out with me,” to which I replied, “Anytime doll, I love you and that’s what I’m here for,” before we separated, turned out lights and went off toward our respective beds.
Walking into the upstairs bathroom to brush my teeth, I ran smack dab into my husband, who was busy getting ready for work. “Can you believe how lucky I am?” I said to him. “What, did you fall asleep at the kitchen table again?” He asked. “No, I’ve been talking with your daughter about a boy who invited her to a pool party next weekend. I think she’s going to beg off by using me. But the point is, she met me at the door and wanted me to help her sort this out. She wanted to talk to me. We are very blessed to have a teen who wants to talk openly to her parents…” I said feeling proud, blessed and very sleepy too.
The pool party is this Saturday and as suspected, she was unable to find a girl friend willing to go–so her mother poo pooed the whole idea. In addition, she picked up a baby sitting job during that same time period, which she feels is kismet… and best of all, she’s still talking with me about all sorts of stuff.
Win Win Win across the board.