Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lane/Kari: Getting out of the House

This title of the post does not reference me, in fact I get out of the house on a daily basis and would love to be able to spend more time at home wearing sweatpants and not have to think about all the men watching me as I walk in front of them. No, this post is about Ashley. It turns out little miss "Stay at home on Facebook all the time" wasn't as introverted as I had thought.

Thursday night around 1 AM I had gotten out of bed unable to sleep due to...ahem...cramps, when I heard the front door open. I did, what was in retropect a stupid move and grabbed a hammer out of the kitchen drawer and went to inspect and/or confront an intruder. This was a case of my brain still having the fight or flight response but not realizing that my body is much more fit for flight than it is for fight. A tiny woman like me would get killed or worse confronting a dangerous intruder, but there I was holding a hammer like some sort of action movie.

Luckily there wasn't some kid in a ski mask trying to take my tv, but rather Ashley. She was wearing leggings that were way too tight for a girl her age and a top that showed way too much cleavage. How do I know what was too much? Again, I have a man's brain and and it wanted to react to things, but I knew that those body parts were attached to a 16 year old and that was a no-go, even if that 16 year old wasn't biologically related to me. She gave me a look of partial surprise. Not surprised that I had caught her coming in late on a school night, but surprised that I had been up that late.

I've always believed that you don't discipline someone else's kid. If a 9 year old is throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of a grocery store you don't intervene or even say something despite the fact that he's 4 years too old to be doing that. You don't even make eye contact. That's how I had been treating Ashley, like someone else's kid. I just didn't want to get involved with what was really none of my business and unless Kari had given specific instructions I wasn't going to stir the pot. But in recent weeks I realized that while I'm not her mother, nobody else knows or would even believe that. If Ashely got in some serious trouble she's still a minor and I'm legally responsible, and a major screw-up could lead to a visit from child services and some very awkward questions asked. Like or not I was going to at least keep her out of jail.

"Where have you been?" I asked in an annoyed tone

She gave me a look that was half irritated have incredulous "Just at Haley's, no big deal"

"In those heels?" I'm still not an expert on female footwear, but a few weeks in business shoes has taught me that any heel higher than two inches is to be avoided unless there are other motives.

"I wanted to feel tall" she said, rolling her eyes.

"You can't be staying out this late" I said firmly "Not on a school night and never without me knowing"

She outright laughed at that one "You aren't MY secretary" saying the last word with an air of unappreciative derision, either not knowing or not caring that I was a receptionist and not a secretary. So much for pro-active parenting.

Whether that kind of attitude is a result of being 16 or not having ever been given a rule like that before I don't know, but it's pretty clear I can't just tell this teenager what to do, because I would have no way to enforce it. I thought about taking her phone away, but in this day and age its a necessity for kid to have one, at the very least as an emergency tether. No, instead of a stick I was going to have to use a carrot.

Kids need an activity to stay out of trouble. When I was in high school I was on the Debate Team, Model UN, and did JV Baseball. Ashley needed to find something to keep her busy which was relevant to her interests, which would be hard to find because I think her biggest interest is Snapchat and I don't think there is a Snapchat team. Saturday morning after she woke up I ambushed her over her cereal.

I explained that I thought she needed and outlet and she should find use for her time and she ignored me until I got to the good part. Ashley doesn't have her Driver's License, she doesn't have a car but like all 16 year olds she wants one. She's passed all her driver's ed courses but she needs hours of drive time with an adult relative and I guess Kari never got around to doing it. I told her that if she joined a club or team and stuck with it, I'd help her get her license and let her use the car two weekends a month. I was especially proud of this deal, since it would also get her out of the house during the daytime where I could let the mask down and not have to be all the Kari I can be.

So we set off trying to find a club or a sport that would interest her. She didn't really play an instrument or sing, or have any acting ability or any desire to work behind the scenes on a play. She also didn't want to do anything too geeky like debate or Model UN (I held my tongue) and by high school most of the kids on the sports teams had been doing it their entire childhoods and it wasn't really beginner friendly. Except for one. Cross Country season had already started, but the girls team didn't have cuts for JV and allowed latecomers to participate, so yay Title IX.

After convincing Ashley that running wouldn't be too awful, and it would help her get in great shape, she agreed to sign up and as of yesterday she is at practice three nights a week and I have my apartment to myself, even if it did require indirectly implying that Ashley needed to get in shape, especially considering the stamina I now possess. However I don't think there's adult Cross Country and I already have enough structure in my life.


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