Friday, June 25, 2010

A Lesson in Trust

My 13 year old daughter was brought home in the middle of the night on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning  in a state police car.  I never thought about how it might feel to have that happen.  If I had given it any thought, I'm pretty sure I thought of my own embarrassment, how I'd explain that or how I'd feel to have a kid who was that bad.  I'm working hard to raise good kids.  I worry about not teaching her enough about taking care of a house or car, balancing her checking account, healthy meals, basic cleaning, laundry.  I spend time planning lessons for her that involve Latin, algebra, ancient history, biology not Beginning Delinquent 101.

The crazy thing is when I saw that police car pull into my driveway, I didn't feel anything but relief.  I'm not sure I've ever been more thankful for anyone than that state police officer.  He rescued my baby from a potentially dangerous situation and carried her safely home.  She may never leave my sight again.  I'm so weak with relief I've found it impossible to be angry.  She and a friend snuck out of the friend's house in the middle of the night and went walking around town.  Too many horrible things could have happened to a 13 year old out unsupervised in the middle of the night.  My imagination is way too active and inventive for my comfort. I say a prayer of thanksgiving and wonder how to keep this from ever happening again.

Coming home in the police car made an impression.  I'm praying that a variety of other consequences have made impressions on her as well.  Apologies made, having to explain what happened to friends and family, rising early and working hard, research about teenage tragedy.  I think my 13 year old is more than happy to let me take care of correcting her.  She's acknowledged her sin and she's ready to face whatever consequence I see necessary.  She knows that what she did was thoughtless and that the results could have been so much worse.  She stumbled across that line between childhood and adulthood, making choices that she wasn't ready to handle.  I think she's relieved that there were adults, ready and willing, to usher her, quickly and firmly, back to the side of childhood.  If all goes well she'll be hanging out in childhood for several years before she ventures out again. 

My 13 year old has learned what it's like to break the trust of people that love her. She's learned that making choices can affect more than just the moment and more than just her. She's learned that trust is fragile and the effort for repair is great. I've learned that trust must be earned, by her and trust has already been earned, by God. I've learned that my trust must rest in God because there is no one else that is worthy of that kind of blind devotion. Being a parent is an impossible chore without certainty that there is a higher power looking out for my children and loving them more perfectly than I ever could. I trust in that and am thankful for it.

There is no way to be prepared for all the challenges of parenting.  No matter how many hours we spend rehearsing scenarios of potential issues we won't think about the issues that will actually face us.  There are too many possible pit falls, too many options for disaster.  When I became a parent, I went in blind.  Most days, I still feel like I'm stumbling around in the dark.  I pray for wisdom and hope that it comes to me, like a bolt from the blue, when I need it.  I struggle with feeling adequate to the task.  I worry about taking too much responsibility, about giving too much responsibility, about not expecting enough, about expecting too much.  I strive to find a solid place to sand in a landscape that's always changing, child to child, minute to minute.  And I pray.

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