Friday, July 25, 2008

Letting Go

Week two of summer school is wrapping up, but my doubts about this public school experiment are just beginning to surface....

The week kicked off for Blondechick with a confrontation from another girl in the class. This gal thinks she's popular and pretty, one of the "in crowd," but she's taken a dislike to BC, probably because several guys in the class are paying attention to her.

"I didn't know girls really acted this way, Mom," BC told me. "I thought it was just in the movies! She stands around with her arms crossed, staring at me and glaring. She doesn't care who sees her. Today she came up to me and said, 'You better watch it, girl, because you're new and you better be careful who you make friends with. You're going to end up with enemies who are going to spread so much dirt about you that your life will be ruined!' "

(Okay, that's a paraphrase. BC isn't here to remind me of her exact words, and one or two of them were unprintable, anyway.)

BC answered right back to her: "Listen, I don't have a problem with you, and I'm not interested in drama. You can back off and leave me alone, because I don't have any issues with you."

She told me then, "I don't think _____ (the girl she was hanging out with at the time this happened) was very comfortable with conflict like that, but I was fine with it. I've dealt with this kind of thing before."

And she has: There were a couple of girls she knew last year that were the gossipy, backstabbing type, and BC finally confronted them on a few things before we moved. The message she rehearsed to use with them was essentially the same one she shot back at the gym class girl, so it's true--she was prepared!

Another disturbing tidbit was that it seemed to Blondechick like most of the girls in summer PE are on birth control pills and sleeping with their boyfriends.

Part of me is thinking, well, duh, what did you expect? The other part is screaming: What are we doing sending her there?

Then I take a deep breath and shoot up a quick "arrow" prayer...and I feel peace return.

I am fearful about this year, it's true. It feels like sending your lambs out among the wolves. And I dread the situations we'll be facing.

We've already told her no dances and no dates. If a boy asks her out, she can invite him over to our house to hang out with our family. She is not happy about this, but it helps a lot that we know one other family with the same rules for their son, her age--the family we went camping with over July 4th.

It helps, too, that she's seeing that Mom and Dad aren't just making up concerns about the public school environment. She's never been a "take your word for it" kind of gal; she's always had to learn things the hard way, by making her own mistakes.

And she's made them--and learned. I don't post those stories on my blog, of course. But I suspect she has more mistakes to make, more things to learn, and if we don't allow her the opportunity on a small scale, in a setting where we're still available to advise and assist, she'll make mistakes of much greater consequence once she leaves home.

I've always liked the greenhouse analogy of "sheltering." But when they are nearing maturity, you start taking the young plants out of the greenhouse every day, to expose them to the elements for an increasing amount of time, to "harden them off." The final goal, of course, is to have mature plants that will thrive outside the greenhouse.

With some plants, "hardening off" is more important than others. Some, if they're mature enough, don't need it at all. Blondechick is a higher maintenance plant. I think she needs the exposure, and the nightly return to the greenhouse. (We began the process at age 12, really, when she joined the Christian theater group--a mini-dose of middle school, as it turned out!)

I just pray that the greenhouse can continue to be a nurturing place. When she keeps trying to break the glass walls, and we have to keep reinforcing them, there's tension in the greenhouse, y'know? It's a challenge, at this stage, to be both a source of protection AND warmth.

At John Fawcett's funeral, I ran into an old friend, a wise homeschooling mom of six, whose kids are almost all out of the house now. I told her honestly that I was having trouble knowing how much to let go of my teenagers. "It's really hard, but you have to do it," she said, "I didn't do it soon enough with my first two. They're fine now, but I started earlier with my next kids, and that's been better."

"Let go" was the one thing I thought I heard from the Lord last spring as I was praying so earnestly about Blondechick's high school options. I think sending her to public school is the right decision, for this child, for this year.

But it's not easy.


elaine@bloginmyeye said...

Wow. Sounds like a divine appointment for you and BC. I love that she already had practice dealing with that situation.

You may feel like you don't have time, but I would suggest finding a Moms in Touch group for BC's school. It is such a great way to spend an hour in prayer each week. At the very least, you and/or BC could intercede for some of these kids and concerns.

I've seen fruit at the elem. level, but sometimes I find myself already worrying about the things you describe. Sadly, they are already present, though elementary-sized, at A's level. Praying, -e.

Anonymous said...

What a hard transition. I love your green house analogy.

I think the sad truth is that if she didnt get that "exposure" now, she would get it in a couple years when she's in collge. And at least now she comes home every night to be able to process with you.

I graduated from a Christian university last year, and maybe its not as bad as public high school, but there were plenty of good Christian kids drinking, sleeping around, etc.

May BC be a stream of light in a confused place.

Amy said...

It's so hard when your heart and your head are struggling against each other. It is so obvious that your family has built a strong foundation for your children - now it sounds like it's time to see how that foundation weathers.

Because of that foundation, and God's Grace, strength will emerge. Remember, though, sometimes the honing process can be painful, but that it is part of the process.

Amy (in Roscoe!)

Linds said...

It is never easy, my friend, but in the end, they have to make their choices, and mistakes, and they will be stronger for doing so. I know it is hard as a parent, but your daughter has a family who love and support her, and are there to guide her, and she knows that.
I think she will be fine. It is like the training wheels are off now, and there may be a few wobbles, but she will learn to steer straight and her confidence will grow.
One piece of advice - show confidence in her and her choices. Assure her that you are there as backup, and love her enormously, but just remind her that you trust her and are proud of her. And then just keep praying!

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

I loved this post and your thought process. And others' comments, as well. So much to think and pray about!

At A Hen's Pace said...

Thank you all so much--advice and encouragement is welcome!!!


Jenny in Ca said...

wow Hen, you have a lot going on right now! Sounds like blondechick is handling things well, good for her! I am following your posts with interest, since you are a few years a head of me in the parenting dept.

We are another family that doesn't do dating, just so you know there are more out there...we will have a rule of no dating till after highschool, any friends can come hang out with the family.

much grace and peace to you and Blondechick this week...

Jena said...

I loved reading your story. It is so hard to be in a homeschooling mind-set and have one of your kids go to public school. I'm in the same boat. But like you, I think it's the right time for this child. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your comment. It's so encouraging.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Here via Megan and 5 Minutes for Parenting. Great, thoughtful post. My children are young still, but when I look back and my own childhood, I see the wisdom necessary for the "letting go" process -- especially when it comes to nurturing our children's faith. Much to think about here.

MoziEsmé said...

That greenhouse analogy is a good one - I'd like to follow along the same lines when my baby gets bigger. This world has so many issues, but our kids have to move into it at sometime or another, and I'd prefer it to be while still under my guidance.