I want to go out
-Well, everybody else does! Just my luck to have been born into a family of weirdos!
This was what Matt had heard when he entered his house tonight. Even before he had time to shut the door behind him, he heard another door slam.
-Hello darling, Matt greeted Sarah, his wife, with a kiss on her cheek. What’s the matter with Sonia?
-She Wants to go to the movies and see titanic in 3-D, said Sarah wearily.
-And… she’s twelve. It’s about time she starts getting some fresh air.
-Just what I need: “It’s time she gets some fresh air”. Have you seen Titanic? Neither have I. The trailer doesn’t make it seem very good.
-But if everyone else is seeing it… Said Matt jokingly.
Sarah started to laugh. Matt was pulling her leg. The truth was that this was a regular conflict in their home. First it was a birthday, then a party, then a sleepover at a friends house. Sonia was raising the bar each time. She thought of herself as older than her age, but she was still a child. There was an argument every now and then. She also no longer wanted to go out with her family. She felt ashamed to be out with her parents, and got bored with them.
-Look, Matt, we have to end this. Could you speak with her? In this house, no one goes out until they turn 18.
-Isn’t that too much? It’s normal that Sonia starts going out on her own. We need to start loosening the leash.
-Yeah, loosen the leash… Do you know what Pete told me? His son, James told him that he was going to watch Terminator. Instead, he discovered that James went to a pornographic movie.
-Sometimes we need to take risks when educating in freedom. We aren’t prison warden‘s. We have to learn to accept the wrong decisions that the children make and we need to help them face up to those mistakes responsibly.
Matt left Sarah thinking and went to see Sonia.
-How are you, dear?
-Dad, I’m the weird one in my class. I don’t watch TV. I don’t go out. I haven’t got clothes. You two don’t let me do anything. Sonia said all this like a shot and continued to cry inconsolably.
-What do you mean we don’t let you do anything? With all you have to study!
Matt tried to calm the drama of the moment but Sonia rejected that and yelled: you don’t take me seriously! You think that I am still a baby!
Matt controlled his temper and said in a conciliatory tone of voice: L isten Sonia; we let you do what seems reasonable to us and good for you. You need to propose good plans, and not crazy things. Your mother has already told me that you had an argument. I share her opinion that titanic is not an appropriate movie for someone of your age.
Are you really interested in the movie or in going out with your friends?
-I want to see the movie, said Sonia. I want to have something interesting to talk about.
-Then I will propose to your mother that we all go and see it, Okay?
Sonia did you not reply, which left Matt quite disappointed. He started to regret having made the offer. After dinner he told Sarah his idea.
-Are you crazy? Exclaimed Sarah.
-Why? If there is an unwatchable scene, we can talk to her about it later on.
-You are not facing the real issue. She wants to go out alone with her friends. Are you going to accompany her to her parties as well? Said Sarah.
-Don’t I look young enough? Said Matt jokingly.
Matt Took his offer to Sonia seriously I researched the movie.He prepared a short talk to explain to Sonia what they were going to see. When he spoke to her about it, Sonia showed very little interest. He told her all about the story line, and she had photos of the leading star.
-This girl doesn’t know what she wants. Now it’s looks like I’m the one who is interested in the movie, Matt commented to Sarah later.
-Oh, the wind has changed. Now it’s the concert air she needs, said Sarah.
-What concert? Replied Matt , surprised.
-You live in the clouds, dear. It’s that all male British group. They have even scheduled an afternoon performance so that school girls can go. And they are all going, said Sarah, smiling.
-Well, she’s not going. I don’t like those crowds. What are the other parents thinking? Sonia is definitely not going, said Matt nervously. What have you told her about it?
-That I was going with her dad, said Sarah mischievously.
That night Sarah and Matt had dinner with friends, Sandra and Roberts, who also have children: a young lady of 21, two boys of 19 and 13, and a girl of nine. Over desserts, Matt mentioned his worries, confessing that he didn’t realize kids were so complicated.
-You know, Matt, said Roberts, Tom is 13 years old. We’ve got other battles with him. His group of friends influence him a lot and they seem to be in a hurry to experience many things.
-Our struggles are related to technology: iPods, the Internet, Sandra added. He usually still doesn’t go out on his own except when he gets invited to a birthday party. We are lucky that he likes the youth group a lot. He has a great time there and feels free in a healthy and controlled environment.
A few days later, Sonia asked for permission to attend a classmate’s birthday party. When she came home, she immediately went to bed and told her parents that her head was aching. Matt and Sarah, who knew the family did not think for a moment that there could have been any trouble at the party.
Sonia was very pensive in the days following . At the birthday party, the kids took advantage of the classmate’s mother’s absence to smoke and have a few drinks. They also watched some of the classmate’s brother’s DVDs. They all felt like grown-ups. It was a month until Sonya’s birthday. What was she going to do to match her classmate’s party ? Would her mother understand that they needed some freedom to have fun their way?
Copied from Nigerian Association for Family Development