Day Before the Party: I was unexpectedly asked the dreaded question this afternoon – “Mum am I allowed to have a drink at the party?”. I was a little taken aback. This all seems to be happening so quickly. For me anyway! Teenagers and drinking – it doesn’t bring pretty pictures to mind. But I must remember that my teenager’s not me at the same age. That’s a massive consolation, and I’d love for it to stay that way.
Today Jessie met up with her old friends from school which was a lovely surprise. She was anticipating only knowing one friend in the group that was going, and was super excited about, so having them all made her day. They went into the city to play laser tag, and she was gone for the entire day. I’d started getting worried by the afternoon. She normally texts me regularly and sends me photos on the occasions she does go somewhere without me. But nothing…until she needed me, haha. She was too busy enjoying herself thankfully, and didn’t need the contact with me. I’m so happy for her! They’re responsible, really lovely girls who I trust, and trust with Jessie.
After leaving the house at 9:20 this morning, she rang at 4:30 asking could she go with the girls to a party tomorrow night. Omg this is awesome!!! Socialising with her old gang!! Having a life outside of her bedroom!! Seeing Jessie so genuinely happy and feeling like she really belongs is elating for me. Even a couple of months ago I doubt she would’ve wanted to go out today, let alone go to a party.
Such feelings of elation aren’t evoked by the details of this party though. There are lots of girls from her old school going. Which immediately told me drugs and lots of drinking, by some anyway. That’s a concern. But again, my teenager is not me at that age. She is way more sensible and switched on!
My decision comes down to a choice really. I either trust in Jessie’s sensibilities, or I not allow her to go, at a time when these friendships have a chance to bond again. That’s how I see it anyway. And being her only parent, that is my perogative. Jessie’s socialisation has taken a real hit over the last couple of years, so I’ve chosen to let her go. Intertwined with my anxieties about it was real excitement for her. A glimmer of normality for her was so relieving for me. It’s brought me out of a deep rut I was in about our dysfunctional reality.
My next decision was around alcohol. Two of the parents are allowing one drink, however there are such strongly divided sides to this amongst mums and dads. My thoughts go back to my adolescence, and to things our much loved caseworker had said a few years ago. It was time for me to now make up my own mind as a parent.
There are two irrefutable facts:
1. alcohol is damaging to teenagers maturing brains and,
2. teenagers who want to drink are going to drink.
Jessie knows more about the damaging effects than I do as it turns out. Good job school! We discussed the possible side effects of alcohol with her medication and the concerns with her bipolar. On this she was well researched and I was impressed with her knowledge and understanding. She can be so mature – I see glimpses of her grown up self. She’s so funny, I was giving her a few excuses to use if she was pressured to have more to drink. She looked at me like I was mad and said “why would I have to lie? I’d tell them straight out I don’t want another drink.” And I have no doubt she would too!
My preferrence would be she didn’t drink at all, however I think it’s safest to discuss and negotiate together. That way we’re both heard and respected. I’ve learnt that teenagers have a greater chance of sticking to an agreement they’ve had a say in putting together. With a close relationship comes a respect and trust they really don’t want to break. But if Jessie was to slip up or find herself in trouble, I’d rather be the first one she calls.
She and her friends are sensible girls, and Jessie acknowledged the trust I was placing in her. Still, I hope I’ve made the right call…
*I trust in myself that I have *