Goodness. My daughter is one month away from graduation, and little over a month from turning 18. Not so long ago she was shorter than me, brace-faced, flat chested and I was consoling her while she cried over some chickens she neglected and died in some silly reality video game. I’m finding myself misty-eyed at church events, musicals and even the dreaded before-prom pictures. (Which for the record, I HATE!!) I wrote a blog about two years ago entitled “Give Up What You Know” https://carvingoutmyname.com/2013/03/17/give-up-what-you-know/ and I felt the need this evening, the day after prom, to revisit that theme.
About a week ago, Lauren asked if we could host the after-prom party and sleepover. What the what?? I’m trying to sell my house. I am a single mom with two kids in college in the fall. I’ve heard stories of parents being locked up for kids getting drunk at their homes. I thought I had dodged the bullet after I told her of my strict guidelines until I wrote her a note on the church bulletin last Sunday. (Note to Pastor Chris Joiner…it was during the offering) “So where is after prom going to be?” “At our house.” What’s a Mom to do? On the way home, I reiterated my request and asked for all parents’ emails by Monday. I sent out an email stating that I was very happy to provide a safe place for the kids to gather after prom, but I wanted to be clear that I reserved the right to search all bags for alcohol and that I needed parents’ cells. I also said the boys would sleep in the basement and the girls would sleep on the third floor. I also told them that the kids would need to get up early enough to help clean up as I was hosting an open house later in the day. Lauren was horrified, and I’m sure some of her friends complained, but I didn’t back down. If kids didn’t like it, they could go somewhere else.
Was I nervous about my liability and obligation? Yes. Yesterday afternoon, I hid all three bottles (I know, very sad) of booze in the house, a bottle of five-year old champagne, and a box of red wine which will never be consumed so I should probably dump it out. There was no good wine because frankly, I drank it from being nervous about hosting an after prom party. Last night, I took a nap while they were at prom and then I got up at 11:30 to put out all kinds of foods. Around 1:00 AM I game them my last little lecture about expectations. But there were no problems. They got up at a decent hour, I made them waffles while they had pleasant conversation. They helped clean up, thanked me profusely and left. Here’s what last night and this morning showed me. Not all kids today are entitled, spoiled brats. Not all kids today are out to get high and drunk at prom. ( But it sounds like from the breakfast conversation that some at prom were) Not all kids are giving up their virginity early and are promiscuous. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say this group of kids behaved better than my generation of kids. I may be lucky, but I also put in my hours as a mom. When you have expectations of your kids at 3 and 10, and follow through, they remember it when they are budding 18 year-olds with college-aged boyfriends. When you don’t nag and micromanage, but act as a loving parent and not their “friend,” they know you trust them and don’t want to destroy that trust.
I thought about what Tony would think of his little Lauren today when I was looking through her pictures. It’s been almost four years since his passing, and she was so different then. He would most likely want her to wear sports bras and turtle necks! He would love how she has matured and inherited his OCD for organization. He would love that she wants to be a nurse, inspired by the care she saw him receive after his surgery and through his hospice nurses. He wanted to be here for these moments so I do my best to keep him present. We talked about him while she was putting on her make up. She mentioned him this morning in conversation with her friends. I try my best to look her boyfriend in the eye (which is REALLY hard since he’s over six feet) and be both the Dad and the Mom as I tell him to drive carefully. At the right time, he and I may have a conversation about Lauren’s Dad. I’ll tell him all the things I think Tony would say, and what he would want him to know about the privilege of dating his precious girl. This is what this Mom needs to do.