Ah, FREEDOM, sweet Freedom!  It’s what teenagers crave most and what we, as parents, are most reluctant to give…mostly for their own good, right?  Zach, God love him, is starting to beat the war drum to gain more freedom.  Sunday evening was a testament to that and I have it documented.

Sunday evening was the beginning of Hurricane Sandy and the end of any pretenses of school on Monday.  The school board called school off at 4 p.m.  The kids were given a rare treat…the knowledge that Monday was all theirs well before it was time for bed.  The celebrations of school kids in the greater Richmond area were felt far and wide by parents just like me.  Zach just wanted to join the celebrations and I can’t say I blame him but I can’t agree with how he wanted to celebrate his good fortune of a Monday free from school.

Here’s my text conversation with Zach….

Zach: “Can I have a sleepover with Grayson and Max?”

Me: “No.  Come home at 11.”

Zach: “Why not?  I haven’t had a sleepover in ages.”

Me: “Yep.  That’s by design.  No sleepover.  Unless it’s here.”

Me:  “I’m more than happy to make pancakes and bacon again tomorrow for you and your friends.”

Zach: ” And what’s the reason for that?  There is no reason for y’all (yep, he wrote ‘y’all’) to not be able to trust me.”

Me: ” I am just more comfortable with y’all (yep, I wrote it too.  I figured if he could so could I.) here.  End of story.”

Me: “Your friends are MORE than welcome here and I’d love to have them.”

Stan sat next to me as I texted with Zach, shaking his head the whole time.  “This is not a texting conversation,” he said.  “If Zach wants to talk about it more, tell him to come home,” he continued.  With those sage words of advice being spoken, Zach and I continued to text each other…

Zach: “Okay, well you should get more comfortable with me staying out so I actually can.  I don’t understand why I can’t stay out.  You used to let me stay out.”

Me: “That’s when your friends’ parents were more hands on and involved.  And I knew them better.”

Zach: “Okay, well I feel you should be able to trust me.”

Me: “I trust you.  But you are a teenager.  And I know about teenagers.  I was one…one of the most trustworthy ones out there but I still did stupid stuff.  So you can either come home now if you want to keep arguing or you (and your friends, if they want) can come home at 11.”

Zach: “If you think I’m doing drugs, you’re wrong.  And I’m not drinking either.”

Me: “I understand all of that and I more than appreciate your honesty but it’s my job as your parent to make sure you are as safe as I can.  You and your friends are welcome here.  END OF STORY.”

I guess he doesn’t get the “end of story” comment because he continues…

Zach: “I will be just as safe here as I would at the house.”

Me: “END OF STORY!  I want you at our house.”

Zach: “I am 16 almost 17, why am I not allowed to stay out with some friends every once in a while?”

Me: at Stan’s urging “Come home now.”

Zach: “I’ll be home at 11.”

Zach: “I’m sorry if I seem snippy, but I am just trying to gain some freedom.”

Me: “I understand that Zach.  I’m just trying to be your mom.  I love you enough to be strict and “unreasonable” sometimes.  Your freedom will come soon enough.”

Zach: “Why can’t it be here now? :-(“

Me: “Because I love you too much to let it be now.”

Zach: “I’m growing up, Mom.  I think that’s what you’re having the most trouble with.  I’m not a little kid anymore.”

Me: “Sweetheart, I know you’re not a little kid.  I wouldn’t have conversations with you about ‘aspirin contraceptives’ if I still thought you were a little kid.  If you would like to talk about this more you can come home now and we can talk about it.  I’m finished texting.  Come home now or come home at 11.”

Zach: “I’ll be home at 11.  I love you.  See you soon.”

Me: “Love you too!”

Yes, I know sometimes I have a hard time thinking about the kids growing up.  But this conversation had nothing to do, in my mind, with growing up.  This conversation had everything to do with making smart choices. I know what I did as a teenager with little to no freedom.  Some dumb things were done.  I know we all learn from mistakes but some huge mistakes can be made if parental supervision is not there.

This whole growing up and letting go thing is harder than hard.  Freedom or no freedom? Helicopter parent or absentee parent?  There’s a line somewhere in there, a line that I need to find so that I can walk it…I guess it’s more like a tight rope, a true balancing act.  I keep hoping I’m balancing things the right way.  I think I am…Zach did end our texting conversation with an “I love you.”

I will keep his freedom in check and my self balanced on my tight rope for the love of all of my children…

Oh, and the “aspirin contraceptives” comment was from the other night and a story I will try to remember to share later….

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