A friend pointed out that oldest girl is like water: she fits the circumstances she is in. And this seems to be the case. Away from the friends she has made in public school, she is returning to a more family-centered, friendly human being. The fear is that the school year will be coming along soon, and she will be returned to the environment that seems to be exacerbating this problem. To hear her talk about hanging out with her friends, especially early on, I was struck by how much it sounded like addiction. When she talked about the friends she made at school, a frequent comment that she mentioned was how people commented on how pretty she was. I wonder if one of the motivators to hang out with the crowd she has found is the fact that they feed her ego. Pride is one of those dangerous things that can guide you to places you wouldn't go ordinarily, and teenagers are a unique mixture of pride and stupidity; unfortunately, ignorance and arrogance make a bad combination.
To date, we have suffered very little drama, with oldest girl at times withdrawing to her room to read (she has done more reading in the past four weeks than I have seen her do in the three months previous), sometimes coming downstairs to watch TV. I even managed to get her to come on a 5K with me on the 4th. She and I have also taken to playing catch on the nicer evenings. A better father would take this time to say significant things of great import, but I am happy to play catch. Add to that the fact that she has a cannon for a right arm, and excellent vision. If we can get her to stop flinching when a ball comes in at her.
Two hard tasks face her now: she is required to give me a list of names for the parents of her friends, and contact information. I have to be able to call each and every parent of each and every friend she wants to spend time with. She sees this as an insurmountable task. Unfortunately for her, it is a non-negotiable. In addition, later this month, she is going to do some research about the dangers that face a young girl out there in the world. I look at crime statistics for my area, and none of them are encouraging. One question I asked her a while ago, getting no answer (I really didn't expect one), was how many times, when she was hanging out with her friends from the parish, she witnessed a knife fight. She has seen one so far, when hanging out with her new friends. And she wonders why I worry.
As fun as all of this is, I have in the back of my mind a comment she made about August, when she will be, in her words, "free". Two thoughts come to mind about this at this point. First, she doesn't get it. Any "freedom" she might enjoy will be strictly circumscribed and laden with conditions. Second, I can't help but wonder how much of this "change" she is undergoing is simply a show, with the ultimate goal of going back to her old behavior.
If that is her plan, she might find herself in a bad way. My wife and I are doing our best to prepare our house to sell, and buy somewhere closer to my work, or closer to our parish. At any rate, I want to get away from this neighborhood. Along with this, I am trying to find a way to send her to a Catholic school where some of her friends from the parish are going to school. She would be away from her new friends (part of my plan), and close to her old friends. And hopefully, she will be wise enough to realize that she knows nothing about the state in which the school resides, and running away to a friends house is not on the table.