Recently I left you all with a bit of a cliffhanger and for that I apologize. However, when Caytlyn didn’t come home that Friday afternoon that’s exactly how I felt, like I was hanging from a cliff for dear life. In my heart I knew that she had done the unthinkable and went to Jenny’s house despite our having said no. But my head was spinning with the dreaded, “What if”.
What if there had been an accident…
What if she was hurt…
What is someone had snatched her…
The possibilities were endless. By this time the clock was pushing 5pm and I was in full-on panic mode. I had made phone calls to the school (which was already closed for the weekend), to the bus garage (who had done all that was in their power), to my husband (who had a feeling that morning that she would pull this stunt), and to my mother (who kept me from coming completely unglued).
My next phone call was going to be 911. This was really the last thing I wanted to do because I knew that an Amber Alert would be issued and some serious manpower would be put into action. After all, we are talking about an almost thirteen year old girl who did not arrive home from school and in this day and age that is taken extremely seriously.
However, I truly felt that she was with Jenny. Only problem was I didn’t know this girl. No last name. No phone number. No address. I couldn’t just let it go and wait for her to eventually call/come home. Then I remembered that her two BFF’s phone numbers were programmed in my phone! In all of my panic it hadn’t occurred to me to call her friends who would possibly be able to point me in the right direction.
As I called the first number I hoped and proayed that someone would answer. Nope, voicemail. So I left a message and made my last call before dialing 911. This time I did get an answer and THANK GOD it was her friend’s mother. Now I’ve never met this woman before (usually the father is the point of contact) and I felt a little ambarassed calling to see if this stranger knew anything about my child’s whereabouts. What kind of mother doesn’t know where her twelve year old is on a Friday night?!?
Luckily she was more than understanding. She didn’t know anything about Jenny’s birthday party/sleepover and didn’t have her phone number (or even a last name) BUT she knew where she lived. Bullseye! This was exactly what I needed to know! I thanked her profusely and promised to call her to let her know as soon as I found Caytlyn. God bless her heart, I think she was almost as worried as I was.
I hustled the little girls downstairs to Grandpa’s apartment and headed out the door. By this time Andy was already on his way home from work so I gave him a quick call to let him know that I was on my way to (hopefully) collect her. Jenny’s house was only about five minutes from ours but I swear it only took my about thirty seconds to pull into her driveway. I walked to the door with my heart pounding as the “what if’s” continued to fly through my head.
Knock, knock, knock……
I saw her the second the door opened. The rush of relief hit me like a brick wall. At this point I had so much adrenaline running through me that it was all I could do to say, “Get. In. The. Car. Now.” without out completely losing my shit. Have you ever been waiting for someone who is so late that you worry and contemplate calling hospitals and law enforcement, until they walk in the door and that relief suddenly turns into rage for having worried so much? Yeah, that.
After a silent five minute ride home I sent her straight into her room so I could collect myself before confronting her. Andy walked in the door within minutes and gave me a big hug. Now we had to address the situation. I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am for my husband. He has an incredible gift for keeping it together and dealing with her calmly whereas I tend to get all worked up, yell, and go off on tangents (not at all effective).
We both went into her room and he basically laid it all out on the table. He explained how terrified we were not knowing where she was, not knowing if she was okay, how incredibly irresponsible she had been, that it was going to take a very long time for her to earn back our trust. He also proceeded to inform her that she was going to lose all electronics and be confined to her room for an undetermined period of time.
That is when she began to cry. The power of losing the tablet, mp3, game system, etc is VERY effective when dealing with teenagers these days. You would have thought we had taken away her best friend! We proceeded to hug her and tell her how much we love her. That we only want the best for her. That there is nothing we want more for her that success and happiness.
For the next few days she sat in her room reading, writing in her journal, and sulking. Of course she came out for meals, bathroom breaks, and school but other than that she was stuck within those four walls with nothing but her thoughts.
Then something happened, something wonderful….she started talking to us. I mean really talking to us. She opened up about her feelings, situations at school, issues with certain friends. And she started smiling again. Joking around with us. Having fun playing with her sisters (even though they sometimes drive her crazy).
It was at that point that I
realized remembered just how rough these teenage years are. The hormones, the feelings, the drama, the intensity of it all….and I made a decision to slow down and take the time to focus on just being mommy. I spent more one on one time with her. We talked more. I listened more.
I recognized that what she had done was more than just a poor choice but maybe, just maybe, a cry for help. She needed us to slow down and pay attention. Of course we will continue to have many ups and downs as we navigate through the rest of her middle and high school years but I feel like this was a wakeup call.
She IS growing up. There WILL be more tough situations. She WILL make mistakes.
So. Will. We.
Parenting is not easy, in fact it is the biggest challenge we face. However, being a teenager is equally difficult and sometimes we need to be reminded of that and show our children that we understand. That they are not alone in this. That we are there for them no matter how busy our daily routine may be. We need to recognize when our children need us the most and simply be there for them.