Three weeks ago our oldest daughter was still our “child”. Sure, she’d turned eighteen and had just graduated from high school, but in the eyes of her dad and me, she was still a child. Curfew was the biggest source of contention. She’d tell us that she was an “adult” and shouldn’t have a curfew; we said that she was still a child living in our home and we should be able to say when she should be home at night. Now, there are, of course, two sides to this story, as there are to most. On her side, it was true, she is, technically, an adult and it is true that with the fall, she will be away at school and we won’t have control over her comings and goings. But from our side, we still look at her and see the little girl with her index finger stuck backwards into her mouth. As I explained to her, we need time to adjust to her changing status, just as we did when she entered her teenage years and wanted more freedom to go with friends to the movies or the mall. What we’ve always asked, during these times of transition, is that our children give us advance warning of their new found status (or the new status they believed they should be accorded). What had been happening with our oldest daughter, from our standpoint, was that she was pushing the status on us at the last minute. 10:30 curfew? She’d call at 10:20 to ask if she could stay out later – No! Then, three weeks ago, she went away. We sent her to Norway with our foreign exchange student who was returning home after living with us for the school year. Not only is the teenage lifestyle more relaxed in Norway, but we had no way of knowing what type of hours she was keeping – we just relied on her host mom to set the appropriate parameters and to keep her safe.
Now, our daughter is home and, when she asked about the ever-nagging question of curfew, I responded, “I don’t think it’s a big deal any longer.” During the last three weeks her dad and I have come to grips with the fact that, yes, she is growing up and, yes, she will soon be leaving the safety of our ever-watchful eyes and, no, there’s absolutely nothing we can do to prevent either of the first two facts from happening. So, three weeks – not so much a matter of her growing up as it has been a matter of us catching up.