public transportation

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!



Patricia said...

Take a deep breathe----and repeat after me-----It will be fine!!!!! She (I) can do it!!!!!!!!

Kath said...

I think we were all scared of raising our teenagers Lane, you are not alone. And just think, you have more than 200 internet pals rooting for you and Sydney!

Samantha said...

As the parent of three (finally!!) adult children I can confidently say that you will get through this thing, and the next thing, and the next... I'll read your blog even if there is not quilty stuff on it for a while. :D

Just try not to make her hold your hand to make you feel better about it. My oldest hated when he was in his teens and I needed him to hold my hand to keep ME from having panic fits when HE was doing something new and adulty. :D

Becky said...

Hang in there, fella!!! It will be ok! Honest! :)

Sharon said...

At age 13 was deposited with an aunt in NYC to live months with her. She worked. It was summer.. What was a teen to do.. Learn to ride the very scary NYC subway system. I was formerly raised in the country with back roads on a school bus. I jumped in.. I don't think it ever entered my aunts mind that there were dangers out there. And I learned to explore the city museums, stores, parks, and became a people watcher. I learned what side of the street was safer and people who were strange to avoid. You are building a wonderful young woman who will some day surprise you with all she knows because you took the time to care so much about her. I will be betting on Sydney doing just fine and surviving this experiment, too..

JoAnne said...

Granted I'm 44, but I used to ride the bus with my sister who was a year older than me. We rode it to school sometimes (no school bus)when I was in grade 3. It cost a dime! Then when I was in fourth and fifth (my sister was in 5th and 6th)we were allowed to take the bus downtown, shop around and do whatever and then ride it home again. Times have changed, but I think it is a great life skill for Sidney to learn.

Seraphinalina said...

My MIL has cross stitched a little saying that parents should give their children two things, roots and wings. Those are very age appropriate wings you've just given her. I've never quite understood how kids are suppose to go from having no responsibility being driven everywhere to suddenly having the freedom to drive everywhere when a mistake could cost many lives. I can see how it's hard, but good on you.

qltmom9 said...

Well, let us know how well she does. We have a trolley bus here we've all wanted to try, but no basketball camp or other reason. I think it is ~wonderful~ ya'll figured out a way.
You are NOT old. Anyone with a young lady Sydney's age is NOT old...she'll keep you young.

It is downright FUN to hear how much you care. Maybe an overprotective mama likes knowing she isn't alone are realizing this IS 2012 and SCARY out there!

Lucy (in IN)

Anonymous said...

The best way to hold onto someone, with an open hand. One thing my son said recently that he liked from us, is that we never said he couldn't do something. We never held him back. good luck.

Coloradolady said...

I read this and my heart started beating wildly...and not in a good way. What days does she have Basketball?? Maybe my daughter can bring her home??? I'd have to check, but the idea of her riding the bus scares me to death. I myself Lane would not know how to ride the bus period. I never have.

I have always heard what the lady said about holding on with open hands...well, I held on with a clinched fist and opened the other hand instead!!!

Let me know if we (alisha) can help...I am willing to ask her!! Other than that...I'll try to not freak.....as you all are on board, I guess I need to be too! LOL

Samantha said...

I appreciate the parenting side of it, especially since it is not all unicorns and rainbows all the time. We are getting ready to have our first and while it will be a few years until we deal with her being a teenager, it is nice to see what we may be dealing with (and how to approach things).

Like others, I hope you'll let us know how she did on the bus.

Laura said...

I think she will be fine. But it might make you feel better if she has a cell phone, texts you when she leaves the house and when she gets to practice.

lw said...

We have so much in common. That is exactly the reaction I would have had. She'll be fine, but remind her not to let men within an arm's length if possible. Buses are one of the places that I got goosed as a young girl, and it scared the cr@p out of me.

Megan said...

Your concern about Sydney riding the bus seemed somewhat odd to me Lane, as my personal experience is similar to JoAnne's. But then I read Coloradolady's and Iw's comments, and it seems that bus riding where you live is potentially unsafe. That's an interesting insight for me, living on the other side of the planet, and it's very warming to know that Sydney's welfare is in such loving hands as yours and Rob's.

Sydney, Australia

Paul said...

She'll do great! Look who's teaching her. And you wouldn't be normal if you didn't worry about your little girl.

Take Care,

Mary said...

My first impulse was to share stories of my daughters' experiences but realized they are not applicable, as we are not in the same place and they are not the same girls. Every child is different and handles life in their own unique style. You have done the ground work and Sydney will handle it and gain confidence in her own abilities.