So, Offspring is now 18 -- legally an adult, and allowed to make her own choices. She's pretty good about choosing to do the right thing, and I have had very few problems with her over the years. She's rational, thinks things through, and isn't afraid to say "no" to bad influences. For example, she recently related a story about a friend of hers from high school. He asked her to hang out one day (she has a large group of varied friends of all races, ages, backgrounds, and of both genders) and she was looking forward to it. Once she was there, apparently, the motive behind his invitation was that he wanted her to smoke some dope with him AND HIS FATHER. She was uncomfortable with that, and told him that she didn't do that, and she wasn't planning on starting. He began to pester her, and then, he told her what he and his father wanted to do to her once she was "blissed out." She pretended she got a text from our family friend who she babysits for, and claimed she needed her to come over, and got out of there. How creepy is that? I admire the way she extricated herself from the situation, and was pleased that she was able to think on her feet. I also told her to feel free to use the "My mom is being a bitch and says I have to come home RIGHT NOW!" excuse any time she needed it. She no longer "hangs out' with this friend, and has avoided him since.
So, all that being said, she is about to head out into the Great Wide World to live on her own. She's lived in the same house all her life, with her Dad and I. I think we've been decent parents....not too strict, but loving and supportive. She's about to get the ultimate taste of freedom -- living without restrictions. She will not have a curfew on campus (that I am aware of) and there is a very low incidence of crime at her school. We actually got an email update from campus that a laptop was taken from the dining hall, and it was such an aberration that the school emailed everyone to report it, and to seek its return.
With all that being said, I'm still reluctant to let her go completely. I will miss her when she goes off to school, and I know I will worry about her a lot -- is she eating right? How are the studies going? Is she making friends? Is she safe? Happy? Liking school? Doing well? Does she miss us?
Already, I can feel her pulling away. She's anxious to start this new phase of her life, and I can completely understand that. She's chafing at the bit, in her 'good-kid" way. I feel like we are pretty permissive parents, and I think we've done a pretty good job in teaching her right from wrong, and giving her a good set of values to build upon. But, still, i worry. It's my job.
The problem is this: she's still led a pretty sheltered life. She dated her long-distance boyfriend, Boy From Oklahoma, for 4.5 years -- her entire high school years -- and has never really gone out with anyone else. She has never allowed herself to "date" because she was committed to her relationship with Boy From Oklahoma. She went out in a group setting with friends, but never allowed herself to "date." She recently broke up with BFO because he no longer seemed interested in her...he didn't call her, text her, or want to Skype anymore, and while it hurt her, she felt the relationship had run its course, so she called it off. I know it hurt her, but I think that she was no longer willing to settle for a nebulous relationship with someone who wasn't giving it their all. In the same space of time, she'd been hanging out with a co-worker and her boyfriend and boyfriend's best friend. I think she became interested in the boyfriend's best friend, and maybe wanted to see if this relationship might be blossoming into something more. Not that she was angling to meet a new boyfriend right away... but we discussed the ability and the open-ended possibility of her meeting someone new at school, and feeling free to pursue a relationship without previous entanglements.
So, as the days of summer pass, she begins to see more and more of this new young man, the best friend of her friend's boyfriend. At first, the group of them all hang out together, and then, suddenly, she and BFBFF are an item. She is hopeful, and looking happier. I can't say that it did her self-confidence any harm in finding out that someone else was interested in her that quickly after her breakup with BFO, either. She announces that BFBFF , in his shy way, kissed her, and wants her to be his girlfriend. I am glad that her smile is back, and that she's happy, but worried how far this new relationship will go before she heads off to school. Will leaving be hard for her, now that she's seeing him? Will she try to keep the relationship alive from school? Will she close off the possibility of dating at school because BFBFF is here at home?
She's been spending a lot of time at BFBFF's house, which is all the way across the city from us, in another suburb. It's at least 20 minutes through traffic, and I recently gave her a "curfew" to be home by 1am -- not because I don't trust her, but because I worry. I want to make sure that she's all right, and while SHE may not be doing anything wrong, there are plenty of people out there who ARE, and their lives may intersect with hers in horrible ways. She's only been seeing BFBFF for about two or three weeks now, and they spend A LOT of time together. So much so that I have to coordinate schedules with her to get her college health paperwork done and schedule a physical for her. It's like I have to make an appointment to spend time with my own child!
Offspring asks if it would be okay if she stays overnight at BFBFF's house. I tell her that I am not comfortable with that, and she wants to know why. I explain that I know nothing about this boy -- how old he is, what his last name is, where he lives, or have even met him. She insists that nothing "funny" is going to happen, but since she spends so much time there, it would be more convenient for her. She brings BFBFF over to our house, and they spend most of the day here, watching movies and playing video games together. He seems very nice, if a little shy, but that's the way Offspring likes them. He's quiet, undemanding, and seems sweet. A couple of days afterward, Offspring again presses the idea that she'd like to stay overnight at his house occasionally. I still have a problem with this idea.
While he seemed like a very nice young man, he is 23 to her 18, and is still a young man who wants sex. It's a fact of life. It doesn't mean he intends to hurt her, or to pressure her unduly, but the thought is there -- how can it not be? He lives with his parents and sister, so it's not like she'd be spending time at his swingin' bachelor love pad, but I still don't like it.
I explain that she's got a lot to do before school starts -- friends that she (not so long ago, she CRIED about all of them splitting to the four corners of the earth this fall) has not spent a lot of time with; an erratic work schedule; packing to be done; and what about her poor parents who have lived with her for 18 years, and will miss her sorely when she leaves?
On top of all this, one of her high school teachers has asked her to house-sit for him and watch his dog while he is out of town. He has given her access to his apartment, filled the fridge for her, and is paying her $200 for the experience to boot. I feel sure that if I say no to the overnight request, it will happen at this apartment anyway. While I don't like to think of my child as manipulative, I know that at that same age, it was something I would have done -- "You say no to my plan? Well, haha! I have another option as a work-around!"
Offspring insists that it isn't about sex, and maybe for her, it isn't. It may not be for him, either, but when it's that much more readily available, then why not go for it, hm? I don't like the accessibility of it all. But, I told her that she is 18, and I can't stop her, but I would really like for her not to stay over there. She packed a bag so she could stay tonight. I guess I have my answer.