The book I'm reading about teens being crazy has a great analogy about teens moving in two circles that must expand and contract together. One circle is the circle of responsibility and the other is the circle of autonomy. As teens show more responsibility, the autonomy they are afforded should increase. As they fail to show responsibility, the autonomy afforded should decrease.
Sydney has shown great responsibility; good grades, social consciousness, being where she is supposed to be when she is supposed to be. And, now she is getting some autonomy. This afternoon, I am going to teach her to ride public transportation, the city bus, to the high school.
Okay, so this is the most controlled environment I can think of to let her be independently mobile. The bus stop is a half mile from the house, on the edge of our neighborhood. The bus ride is 3 miles and she should only be on the bus for 15 minutes a day. The ride is in the middle of the afternoon, not during rush hour.
I can't think of a more controlled way to expose her to mobility. And, if this doesn't work, I don't have another option for her to get to basketball camp in the middle of the afternoon, two days a week. I cannot leave work that much to get her there and neither can Rob and we don't know anybody that doesn't work that can take her. I think for the first time, I miss having local grandparents and aunts and uncles.
First, I had to convince Rob that this was a good idea. Then, I had to convince Sydney. I got them both on board yesterday afternoon and had Sydney read 6 pages from the metro transportation authority about riding the bus; what is expected, what to do, what not to do, how to pay and how to signal the driver that you want off the bus.
But, at 3:30 this morning, I woke very frustrated. It was like an animated cartoon. I could basically hear the roadway growling and slithering like a black snake and I could hear horns blasting and I could sense a 9 year old Sydney, crying, waiting to cross the street to take the bus.
Okay, all you parents of grown kids are welcome to say that I've just had my first of many sleepless nights as we work on this responsibility/autonomy balance. I'm sure it's going to be even harder when she goes on her first out of town overnighter. Or, when she drives cross country. Or goes off to college. I'm sure there will be many nights that I will envision the roads as dangerous and people as threats. I am sure I will wake with that clammy feeling and not be able to get back to sleep on a regular basis.
But I was not expecting it last night. I was the one that solved this problem. I was the one that did the research. I sold the idea to the rest of the family. I should have been the one that got the good night's sleep, confident in my choices.
Instead, I was the only one up, prowling the house in the middle of the night, panicked and trying to find the city ordinances about where you're allowed to cross the street. So, if you think internet research is pointless and confusing when you're clear headed, try to do it in the middle of the night, when you are panicked and not thinking clearly and getting more and more angry as the hours pass without a better solution to the issue at hand.
I finally found what I needed; the information that made me feel better. And, I walked to the only dangerous intersection this morning, just so I could get the lay of the road she was going to have to cross. And, I measured distances to see if I could get her to a cross walk with a signal so I wouldn't have to worry about her running out into the street to catch a bus that's nearing the stop.
I've done all I can do. And now it's time to let go and trust that she has shown us that she is responsible and ready for this added autonomy.
At this point, I am sure that I am more nervous about riding the bus with her this afternoon than she is about either the bus ride or the first day of basketball practice.
And, when did this sweet little quilt blog get to be so much about parenting??? All I did was start one little quilt that's for a friend and I can't blog about, and suddenly I don't have anything quilty to talk about.
Hey, there are lots of quilt blogs, but where else can you go to hear how scared an old man is of raising a teenage girl?
Have a great Tuesday. I've gotta go home and find a handful of quarters!