It is apparent that I am not going to making any friends in my class. I started off the evening last night with a bang, and it just progressed. The Mom about whom I wrote earlier in the week had the balls to come up to me before class started and say, “We waited for you to come pick us up. You are lucky we decided to just go on ahead and leave, or it would have been your fault if we had missed the class. And what is the deal with telling your daughter she can’t talk to my son? ” As she was talking, she wouldn’t look at me, and spit was flying out of her mouth-I guess she was pretty mad? One of the things we talked about last week was all about making eye contact, so I waited until she WOULD look at me and said, “It is not my job to make sure you get to class. If you can afford to kill time by driving around, you can afford to get to class. And I do not owe you an explanation as to why I do not want your son to call my daughter and vice versa.” Then I went to one of the instructors of the teens and asked her to please make sure that the two of them (H. and K.) did not huddle up together. She was all, “oh hell no, this is NOT a dating service!” Which made me laugh, and also rest easier. Mom? Well, she very pointedly looked at me and chose a table as far away from me as possible, as if I really.fucking.cared. Meh.
We ate, which was good-tacos, with this killer homemade salsa that I could gladly have slurped down out of a cup. Lots of cilantro, just the right amount of jalapenos-perfection. It was actually really nice to sit down with just Hannah and Eli and talk. We did not talk about anything spectacular, just chatting, but it was really nice. I don’t now how THEY felt about it, but I really enjoyed the half hour with just the three of us; even in the midst of this hustling and bustling room, we were still alone as a little family unit, and I can see that becoming one of my favorite moments of the week.
We then went into our separate rooms, and I tell you, wow. The dynamics of the class are already changing, and it is really interesting to see and be part of. We are all a little less nervous, the facades slowly peeling away to reveal our true nature, and I am loving that. I am pleasantly surprised to say that one couple in particular has totally changed in my mind; some of the things that they went through this week with their child, in addition to some of the consequences they set down, floored me-and last week, I thought they were very cavalier and like, “oh, whatever, let’s just get through this class.” Teach ME to make judgements, I tell you. Some of the others, though, well, let’s just say I wasn’t wrong. One of the couples were all up in arms because their 14 year old daughter skipped school and came home with hickeys all over her neck-and yet were adamant that she isn’t going to get pregnant because she isn’t having sex. Well, she might not be yet, but she WILL be. A select group of us parents (and one of the instructors) were all “Is she taking any kind of birth control? Know how to use condoms?” and he said, “No, but she doesn’t NEED to know how to use them, that is the boys’ responsibility, and if we go put her on birth control, she is going to think we are telling her that it is okay!” THIS made me want to scream. I kept my hands clenched together until they were white, my teeth clamped so that I wouldn’t lose it, but alas, I couldn’t keep it up. Finally I said, “Um, why is it solely the boys’ responsibility? So when she comes home knocked up you can blame it on him? And by knowing she is already engaging in risky sexual behaviors, by choosing to not provide her with birth control and STD education, you are telling her not only that you don’t care about what she does, but also that you don’t give a shit what happens to her!” My way of thinking is that we do our children a grave disservice by not addressing things like condoms and birth control and risky behaviors-while I am not looking forward to teaching Hannah and Eli how to put on a condom and taking them both to the clinic to show them where the free condoms are, I am also not willing to send them out in the world to take chances. I can’t be there with them (thank you Jesus, I don’t WANT to be!) to make sure they use them, but I can certainly make sure they know what the consequences are; and in this day and age, pregnancy is not EVEN the worst think that can happen. I finally just shut up and shook my head, because he and his wife don’t want to hear it, they just don’t.
I have a really, really bad tendency to want to force my own views and opinions on people, or try to “make” other people see things from a different perspective. Because I am right. Isn’t it proof enough of my rightness that neither of my teens have ever skipped school gotten jailed, gotten drunk or high, and are still virgins? Yeah-and you and I know that it is dumb luck more than anything else. Anyway, when I realized what I was trying to do, I just had to stop myself. I can rant and rave here, and to my IRL friends, but I have two choices in the class: I can give my input and let it go and instead concentrate on those things I might be able to use, or I can bash my head against the wall and try to make these people somehow suddenly change their entire belief system and forget that I am there for my kids, and for myself. So I am really going to work on learning what I can from them-all of them, the what to do and what NOT to do, and let them do what they will.
There was a lot of really good stuff last night about rewards and praise, about choosing your battles and listening actively, and I can see already how I have failed in some ways-but one of the things both instructors harp on is that guilt is useless, and it is not too late. Not too late for ANY of these kids (though I do have my doubts, but not because of the kids!), and not too late for us as parents. They both said last night that if we take this class yet refuse to get anything out of it, then we are equally responsible for our kids making the choices they make. And you know, I agree.
So. Lots of stuff to process over the next week, and I am SO glad to have been able to go ahead and take the class. I think that anything I can do or am willing to try can only help, and I am grateful over and over again to be able to be teachable!