When my kids were little their play dates included the parents and were planned by the parents. It seemed to be what everyone did. It was nice because the kids were kept busy and tired each other out while the adults had a relaxing conversation. Then as the kids got older it changed to one parent dropping a kid off at another kid’s house. The kids still kept each other busy, but the parent whose house they were at no longer had someone to sit and relax with. The parent who dropped off had time away from their child. To make things fair, you usually traded back and forth where the kids played. This was also planned by the parents.
As the kids got even older it was suddenly “mom, can Laura come over for a sleepover?” or “mom, can I go to Laura’s house for a sleepover?” There were suddenly no parents communicating. All communicating was between the kids. I found myself being told when, where and who by my child. At first it was with families I already knew, but then my children would meet new friends and I didn’t know their parents. My first reaction was to talk to a parent first. Talking to a parent meant I had their contact number and was sure they were ok with the arrangement. I didn’t want to drop my child off somewhere they weren’t expected.
I’ve been surprised over the years how many parents have brought their kids to our house without meeting or talking to us. Has this become the new norm for the older kids, Junior High to High School? The parents just drop the kids off where ever they ask to go without checking things out first? I realize they are getting older and becoming more independent, but it seems too laid back for me. However, I am guilty of not always checking in with the parents of the other child or children.
Lately my daughter always wants to hang out (mall, movies, park, etc.) with a friend at some point during the weekend. This is completely understandable. I didn’t want to stay home and hang out with my parents when I was a teenager either. Since she can’t drive yet I’m the chauffer to and from. Sometimes working this around our schedule can be difficult.
Since I’m not always able to communicate with the parents of the other child, I communicate with my daughter while she is out with her friend. We have a plan where/when we will meet and discuss what she will be doing while away. I usually text her a few times while she is away also. I’ve even asked her to send me a picture a few times. Does that make me an over protective mother who doesn’t seem to trust her daughter?!
Last week my daughter wanted to meet her friend at the movie theater. Not the one in town, the one a town over. We didn’t have any other plans and it wasn’t too late so I agreed. My daughter had been spending a lot of time with this friend and I did chat with the mom once at a school function.
While I was driving her to the movies I was told her friends brother, who is a year older, would be there too. Her friend wasn’t allowed to go out without her big brother. It was reassuring to hear her friends parents were protective of who her daughter was with. We pulled up at the theater the same time as her friend. Before I drove off I told her I would be out front when the movie got out.
I arrived back at the movie theater about 15 minutes before the movie was out. I played games on my phone while I waited. The next thing I knew, it was 15 minutes past the time she was expected to get out. I thought maybe the movie started late or the previews ran late. No big deal. I was irritated because I wanted to go home and get in my jammies. I continued to wait. I noticed a lot of people exiting the theater, as if a movie had just let out, but still no sign of my daughter. It’s now about 30 minutes past the time she should have come out. I’m now starting to worry. Then I remembered she always calls once she’s out of the theater. What if her phone died? She’s been having problems with it. She couldn’t see me where I was, so I decided to pull up in the front in the drop off zone. I thought for sure she would be standing there waiting for me. Still no sign of my daughter. I tried several times to call and text her, but no response.
My heart started racing and I began to panic. Terrifying things started racing through my mind. What if someone kidnapped her? What if it wasn’t her friend that pulled up when we did and I left her standing alone? What if someone convinced her to walk off with them? What if they didn’t go to the movie and were in a car accident going to wherever they were going? My head was spinning.
Should I go in the theater? What would I say? What would I do if the movie got out and she wasn’t there? Should I check all the theaters? How would I do that? I finally thought to call my husband. He used to be a Police Officer and will know what to do. I told my husband what was going on and he said he would head my way. I realized I had her friend’s cell number in my phone from the other day when my daughter’s phone stopped working. I tried calling and texting, but didn’t receive a response. A few times I started to get out of the car to go into the theater, but had an overwhelming feeling I needed to continue waiting.
At this point it had almost been an hour since I expected to pick up my daughter. It felt like a lifetime. I decided to call my husband to see what he thought we should do and make sure he was still coming. His plan was for us to check the theater first. While I was talking to him I got a text. It was my daughter! She said the movie just got out. What?! How was that possible? I checked and double checked the time the movie was to get out. I quickly told my husband and said we would see him at home soon.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the front of the theater waiting for my daughter to walk out the doors. She finally appeared! I could see her through the glass doors in the lobby. I watched her walk out and to the car. When she got in the car one part of me wanted to grab her and hug her, while the other part wanted to start screaming at her.
When I asked her where she had been she said “in watching the movie”. I told her that was impossible because the movie was supposed to get out at 9:30 and it was now 10:30. I didn’t understand how a movie could run an hour behind. She calmly looked at me and said “oh, her mom wouldn’t let her see the movie we planned to see because it was rated R. So we saw a different movie and it just got out.” I no longer want to hug my daughter!
As I began feeling angry and frustrated with my daughter for her lack of communicating, I was convicted. It was time to be thankful not angry. My anger and frustration turned to praising and thanking God for my daughter. In a shaky voice and tears rolling down my face I explained to my daughter why I was so terrified. She said she was sorry and didn’t realize there was a difference in how long the two movies were. We sat in silence for most of the ride home.
The older my children get the harder parenting seems to be. It makes me wonder how God feels when I change the plans for my life without consulting Him. Thankfully he is oh so patient, kind and loving. He treats us with grace and mercy each and every day even though we don’t deserve it.
My prayer for us today ~ Lord, I thank you for the patience and love we receive from you every day. I pray we treat those around us with the same patience and love, Amen.