A couple of years ago I remember watching an interview with Niece Nash about raising children. She said that raising babies and toddlers was easy, "They need a cookie and a nap! Nothing hard about a snack and a nap." But it gets harder with teenagers and older children because you are not only protecting them from their own poor decisions, but from the poor decisions of others.
Long time readers know that we live in the "hood." An interracial neighborhood that is "inter" only because my family and two others live here. Yesterday my 13-year-old daughter was approached by two older guys (over 16, drooping pants and oversized T-shirts) while she was playing with her sister in front of our home.
One of the guys asked her how old she was and she truthfully answered. Then he wanted to know if she had a boyfriend. Quickly thinking it would be better to have one than not, she said she did. Then finally they asked her if she was a virgin. Having no experience in getting asked inappropriate questions by complete strangers she said yes, then grabbed her sister and ran into the house. She was a little shaken when she told me the story. The first words out of her dad's mouth when she told him about it was, "We're moving."
On thinking about it overnight, I told Izzy that if she sees strange guys approaching her, she needs to walk away from them and if she is on the street, come right into the house. But if they ask her any inappropriate question (and I consider any question other than, "nice weather isn't it?" to be inappropriate) her response should be, "I have a father and four older brothers all over 6 feet tall, and one of them owns a gun."
The other kid I feel protective of is Gabe. I didn't tell him about all the soccer ref shenanigans going on at first but after I thought about it I explained it to him this way.
- I tried to sign him up for the soccer ref class because we were told he didn't pass last spring.
- The computer system wouldn't let me sign him up because they said he already passed the course.
- When I pointed this out to someone in charge, they told me he passed with a 75% and that they would send me his badge so that he could officiate games.
- When I asked for an extension for the time before he has to re-certify since he didn't ref at all last spring, I was told no.
- When I mentioned that I thought an apology was in order, I did receive a nice one from the head of the soccer refs in the state who offered to let Gabe take the class at a discount and count it towards next year's recertification.
- But I caught hell from the district referee administrator (aka DRA) who basically wanted me to know that there was no way he would ever apologize, and that even though they administered the wrong test, and then ended up passing everybody because they didn't keep track of who passed and who didn't, - that my kid was the dumb one. Well I beg to differ.
So what do I do? Make Gabe take the class again because he didn't really pass it the first time OR just go ahead and have him study all the rules of the game, make sure he knows his hand signals and be the best ref I know he can be? I wanted him to take the class again but Mr. Pete didn't want to take the risk of Gabe having to deal with that DRA again. So I think we are all in agreement to have Gabe study and then just go out there and do a great job on the field- where it actually counts.
These are the moments I never even dreamed up when I was holding them in my arms as babies. Now I need a snack and a nap!