To be honest the first couple of days of this whole thing have been surprisingly easy. The days long headaches from the years where a gave up caffeine and/or chocolate were far worse in the first 72 hours than this has been. Until last night.
Last night. When for the first time in her 18 years and 5 months on this planet a boy called my daughter and asked her if she wanted to go somewhere with him for the evening.
In my day we called this a date. I'm not sure how that process works these days and THAT was where the challenge came in. Had he called on Tuesday I'd have immediately hit up my network on Facebook and figured that out before I had to decide if I was okay with dropping her off at a pool hall at 9 pm to meet this boy and his friends or not. But I couldn't DO that last night. Last night we had to make a decision while walking around the aisles of Sprouts.
Fortunately this is a boy I have known since he was 5 or 6, a kid we did homeschool co-ops and dozens of field trips and evenings at their house with over the years. I think she actually slept over once when I threw a kidney stone at his aunt's wedding but I'm not sure. We may have picked her up on the way home from the ER. I was pretty drugged up at the time. Unfortunately all that contact had stopped as the kids hit middle school and our little homeschool collective sort of fell apart. They ended up in the same GED prep class at Southwest this spring though and he's called a couple of times this week with questions about their homework, which is what she thought he was calling about last night, until he wasn't.
So this, this date or maybe not date thing, was new territory. Really new territory since most families with boys her age in the homeschool circles we frequented in her preteen, not old enough to date anyway so we don't have to think about this stuff years; were into Joshua Harris and "Kiss(ing) Dating Goodbye."
YIKES! Does that mean I have to consider that whole thing too? No. Nope. Not going there. This is a simple invitation to go hang out with friends. Right? This is not the prelude to promise rings and courtship out of the fundamentalist purity culture we started out in, right?
GAH! Where are my people when I need them? Oh yeah, On FACEBOOK! That four hours between her deciding to go and when we picked her back up was the most tempted I've been to plug back in. Instead I had to do things a bit differently.
I texted his mom. "Your son just called my daughter and asked her to go play pool"
She sent back, "Really. Wow. Are they going?"
I replied, "Yeah, she's going. Weird right?"
She sent back, "Yes. But kind of cool."
Her dad asked our cousin the cop to find out if the place we were taking her was somewhere safe.
She texted her friends for additional advice and support.
Her dad and I dropped her off but stayed in the area having coffee and window shopping in case she needed a quick escape.
I let it go.
I texted with Aubree about plans for tonight and with Jason about plans for next week but I didn't obsessively check my Facebook to see if they were posting selfies or anything like that. I didn't over-analyze for the ENTIRE time she was out. I would have if I'd had access to Facebook.
At the end of the evening we're still not sure if it was a date or not. That's pretty irrelevant since whatever it was she had a really good time.
Dating is weird now. Although I remember my mom saying the same thing when I came home wearing some little boy's jacket and announcing that we were "going together"even though we were in Middle School and not actually GOING anywhere. By the time I was navigating actually going out somewhere with someone I was pretty independent and my mom wasn't the kind of mom that called her girlfriends about such things as far as I know. I'd have killed her if she'd physically tried to keep the kind of eye on me that Facebook makes so tempting and so easy in the virtual world. I'm still bitter about not being allowed to go to Nashville to see R.E.O. Speedwagon with my boyfriend, Tom, when I was 15. Just kidding mom, I totally get it now.
I do find myself wondering though if this constant connectivity is good for us.
I grew up without cell phones as a kid. I was in college when I got my first one and I've had a love/hate relationship with the electronic leashes ever since. I've always thought it was because I got it as a result of an abusive relationship with a boy who has stalked me off and on for years. (Yes still, the last contact was just a couple of years ago. Via, you guessed it, FACEBOOK.) Now I think maybe its because being constantly available is unnatural and maybe not even healthy.
I first noticed it a decade ago when I was teaching a bunch of digital natives in Sunday School. School day conflicts didn't end when the school day did. I watched arguments rage on for hours and hours via text messages and social media. We have a term for it now, cyber-bullying, and I shudder to think how horrible it must be to never get a break from your abuser. Even as a kid who was occasionally bullied, when we left school and got to go home there was a break from it. It was this delicate dance between being built up at home and torn down at school. Most of us who claim, "I was bullied and I survived it okay. It made me a stronger person." were fortunate enough to have the balance tilted toward the voices who built us up rather than those that tore us down. Now though, now it's invisible and relentless and it's nearly impossible to tilt the scales the right way when there is no respite, no time when we disconnect.
We weren't created for constant contact. We were designed to need time to refresh. To need Sabbath. To need times with people and times away. As an introvert I need that more than most folks do but Facebook allows me to have the illusion of being "alone" while preventing that from ever actually being the case. Yesterday I said that I was lonely. Today I'm thinking that being disconnected from the world of Facebook isn't such a bad thing. As I sit here typing this, I am actually physically alone. It is quiet. My husband is off at the Archery shop and my daughter is still sleeping. The only sound is the clickety-clack of the keyboard. It's peaceful. I've answered a couple of text messages from Aubree solidifying our plans for tonight but that's as connected as I want to be right now.
When I picked the title of this blog I did so in the context of what I was giving up. Like being gluten-free. Now though I'm thinking that before this is all over it may have taken on a totally different meaning. More like being freed from something rather than giving up something. We shall see.
Until tomorrow, Peace.
P.S. See that comment button down there. If you have thoughts, use it. :)
P.P.S. Daughter read and approved this post.