Tuesday, February 19, 2008


We’ve all been there. At the threshold of adulthood where you’re no longer a child but you’re not quite ready for the responsibilities that being grown requires from you. Where you know everything and old people don’t know a damn thing. Many more of us tripped over that line than traversed it smoothly. In fact, I don’t know many who were able to cross into the pit of adulthood without any hitches. I personally tripped and fell flat on my wide behind with many a bruise or two to show for my fall. Growing up was truly hard to do.

When I was seventeen no one could tell me anything. I had the world figured out and it was everyone else who didn’t have a clue. I swore up and down that what I should have spent years searching for I’d already found and there wasn’t a soul, mother or father, who could tell me I was wrong. Hell, I was grown and I defied anyone to say different.

Casey is seventeen going on forty-five. She’s got it all figured out and I wish I could just grab her by the shoulders and shake twenty-five years of my experiences into her thick head. Her mother is pulling out her hair trying to make Casey do right, adamant that it’s going to be her way or the highway.

Casey has no fear of the highway because she doesn’t have a clue what’s out there waiting for her. Baby girl is driving shotgun with a young man who has got her nose wide open whispering all kinds of sweet nothings in her ears. Mama’s screaming about hell and damnation and the boyfriend is making promises Casey wants to believe in.

My heart breaks for Casey because I understand that this truly isn’t about her wanting to be grown. With graduation and the prospect of college approaching, the world has told her that it’s her time to shine but Casey isn’t quite sure she can or will. So Casey’s searching for attention that makes her feel valued and wanted. She hasn’t learned yet that she needs to value herself first. Her mama can tell her so twenty different ways from heaven and Casey will still have to learn that lesson the hard way. Most women do.

When I was that age and acting out my mother did me the biggest favor she could ever do for me. She turned her back and said she’d had enough. “Do what you will,” she said, “I don’t care. But I have three rules you’ll have to follow. Don’t do drugs, don’t come home pregnant, and don’t ever call me from jail. Follow those rules and you can do whatever the hell else you want to do.” And I did. My life was my own and in return I willing gave her those three rules. That was the turning point for me. I actually slowed my roll, no longer feeling a need to conquer and defy. And it was all going well until another adult in my life decided to intervene, pushing me into a corner with an ultimatum that changed the entire direction of my life. Refusing to be told what to do and how to do it, I made a decision that I regret to this day. But it was a lesson well learned and one I readily share when I think it can help someone else.

Casey will look back on this time in her life with twenty-twenty vision. It will be clarity like she’s never known before. If I can tell her mother anything I want to tell her this. Save your voice because the screaming and ranting aren’t getting either of you anywhere, nor are they as sweet as all that nothing being whispered into her ear. Nothing you say or do is going to make Casey do different. Casey is going to do what she wants to do no matter the consequences. Trust that you’ve done your job and done it well. You’ve told her what the risks are. You’ve given her direction. Now give her three rules and trust her to follow them. Then let her go. She may very well lose her way a time or two but the sheer knowledge of your trust and the lessons you instilled will get her back on the road when it’s needed.

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