Friday, September 22, 2006

Best friends

Em is 15, and her best friend (which at her age is a very specific label) is 18 and has just moved into the dorms at a local college. I'll call her Marisa.

I like Marisa pretty well, but i also find her a bit sneaky, and affected. (Oh, is there anything more self conscious than a teenage girl?) One time she tried to get me to lie to her parents about something that they didn't want her doing. Ha ha, not happening. Even if i do not agree with the parents. i would NEVER collude with a kid to disobey them. I also wonder why an 18 yo would have a 15 yo as her best friend. My sense is that she is still very immature.

Em made the assumption that she would be allowed to go off and spend the night at the dorms with Marisa. And when i found out that Marisa would be going to college in the area, i knew this would be coming up, and so i prepared.

My gut instinct was to say no, but i wanted to think about it first, chat with the Mister and make sure that i was doing the right thing. But during the summer, the Mister and i went on a hike with Marisa's dad. I was talking to him about this, saying that i was not comfortable with it, but i didn't want to give a knee jerk no. He was pretty quiet, and then, about a half an hour later he told me that if he were in my position, that he wouldn't let Em spend the night at the dorms. He said that he doesn't trust Marisa's judgment.

Wow. What a great thing for one parent to say to another. It can't have been easy for him to tell me that, but i really appreciate him for it. If both of us weren't stand-offish introverts, i would have given him a hug!

I should have trusted my first instinct. After a bit of a fuss, Em has come to accept this decision, although she is still not happy with it. Marisa is welcome to come and spend the night with us, i will even drive over and go get her, but no way in hell am i letting Em stay over there. Thank you Marisa's dad, you are very honest.


Antonia Cornwell said...

Sound bloke, as we say in Blighty. You both sound like wonderful diplomats.

Beautiful, beautiful picture, too - your garden or somewhere nearby?

Karen Jacobs said...

I just ran my two teen g-kids through the test... then turned the calendar waaaay back and included myself at that age and am not sure any can be considered completely judgement pure... there's a weak spot that can be manipulated in the strongest of them. That said... ya still have to trust.

Lynnea said...

I think you took a great approach. Though you trust your gut, it never hurts to consult with Hubby first. That Dad is amazing! Isn't it reassuring when you get to validate that your gut was right?

Anonymous said...

Good call. When I think back to my Freshman year... *shudder*

meno said...

antonia, that is our yard. When we remodeled several years ago, we put this stuff called "eco-turf" in instead of grass. It's full of clover and yarrow and these lovely english daisies.

kj, yeah, god knows i wasn't sound of judgment at 15. But Em looks up to Marisa, so i worry about that weak spot being manipulated.

hi maggie, He really is a thoughtful and considerate dad. He had other things to say too, which were equally perceptive and honest.

nancy, yeah, i was thinking about that too. I think i majored in THC that year.

Anonymous said...

Having been a kid living in the dorms at college...I completely agree with both of your judgements. It's no place for a 15 year old, no matter how mature she is or how immature her hostess may be. Just my humble opinion.

Anonymous said...

we went through this about 3 years ago, when Jess' friend moved down from Ohio to go to school in Greensboro. She stayed with us for a few weeks first, and while her mama and I were great friends, and I really liked the girl, she was just a little too far to the left for my daughter to stay with on a college campus.

Obviously neither of the girls was very happy about our decision, but they got over it, and have since drifted apart.

Sorry for the long comment, but your mama instinct is almost always right, and someday Em will have to face these decisions from the other side; then she'll understand.

Josephine said...

There are a lot of things you can do with a teenager. Understand them, be inspired by them, have fun watching them reel in their teenage angst...but from what I learned in raising one from 12-17, I can tell you that trusting them to make wise decisions when they are together?

Invariably, there will be boys around because the boys sniff them out.

So trust is always a mistake :)

Anonymous said...

We went through some situations like this when Max was 15/16. The best thing you can do is what you did: think about it long and hard, then level with your kid about your comfort level and set the limit. Max came to appreciate the limits we set, because he could see that they weren't knee-jerk, they were well thought out. Even if he disagreed, his displeasure was not extreme. And as you did, we always offered an alternative scenario. Well done.

peevish said...

Well done, indeed. I have 2 young daughters and am dreading these scenarios. And if they turn out to be anything like I was (scandalous & deceitful) we are in for a rough ride.
I also wanted to say that photo is beautiful! I wish it were my yard. Here in texas, it has been so hot and dry that most of my garden is parched earth.

Anonymous said...

Yes well done. And bravo to the dad who is not harboring any delusions about his child.

I It's hard to make unpopular decisions and risk your child disliking you but they're going to have plenty of friends, and need me to be the parent.

urban-urchin (stupid beta blogger)

Bobealia... said...


Also, truly, there would be no reason that they would need to stay at the small, cramped, noisy dorms other than to have sex and/or drink.

I remember being 15.

meno said...

hi friend, my humble opinion too, obviously. Thanks for coming by.

holly, this is a no apology zone, didn't you see the sign? Anyway, your comment wasn't really very long, and i appreciate the understanding.

josephine, you know in some ways it's not really about trust, it's that they can't really think through the ramifications of their decisions. "I know, let's walk to the McDonalds that's a mile away at 2 in the morning! That's a good idea!" I mean, that's what we used to do.

marian, thanks for the understanding. It's always helpful to have input from those who have ventured into this arena before me. Em didn't really make much more than a token fuss, she knew that when i said no way, that i meant it.

lisa, Em is a lot like me, and so i know the kinds of things that she might try and pull, because i did them and my parents weren't paying attention, but i am! Thanks for the photo compliment, they are the cutest flowers. I'm always sorry when the lawn gets mowed and they disappear, but they are back within a day or so.

urban-urchin, so it's still not safe to go into the beta waters? Yep, i ain't her buddy, and she appreciates that on some level.

hi bo, i remember it too, and although i wasn't having sex at that age (icky!) i was drinkin' and smokin'.

Carolie said...

Good for you, and for Marisa's dad! I was a pretty straight arrow (read: boring!) but even at that I was pretty judgement free as a freshman. My little brother used to come visit me at college, and it certainly wasn't because he craved my was for the parties and lack of parental oversight!

Freedom + youth + a need to show off for one's younger friend = a recipe for disaster.

Imez said...

oooo, tough.

You know, I stayed with my sister in her dorms when I was's different. She had an unspoken responsibility to look out for me.

When will you let Em go? 16? 17? If she proves herself somehow?

meno said...

carolie, yes, that is true. I went and stayed w/my brother when he first went to college. Man was i in over my head.

esereth, nothing really for Em to prove. She will be off herself in a dorm in less than 2 years, i just want to keep her as safe as possible until then.

Teri M. said...

My daughter has much older friends as well (they're neighbors and she's grown up with one, which makes them hard to avoid), so I'm dealing with some of the problems that come with that. Luckily they're not juvenile deliquents, but it got her introduced to the "emo" scene, which I could have SO lived without.