Teen’s first solo steps in world leave me shaking

  • By Sarri Gilman / Herald Columnist
  • Monday, June 21, 2004 9:00pm
  • Local News

It all sounded like a good idea at the time. My teenage daughter was going to an afternoon event at a radio station with a girlfriend. They had won free tickets. The friend’s mom was driving them to Seattle and dropping them off for the afternoon concert. The mother is a doctor and was on-call for the evening in Seattle. The friend’s grandma lives in Seattle and was picking up the girls at 7:30 p.m. and bringing them back to her house to sleep. I was picking up my daughter in the morning, to take her to fencing class in Seattle.

At the time, it seemed like a good idea to not drive from Whidbey to Seattle twice.

I gave my daughter my cellphone. I showed her four people on my speed dial who lived within blocks of this concert and any of them could also be called if there was an emergency. In case something happened to me, the doctor-mom or the grandma, I had a back-up to the back-up plan.

I repeated over and over, as if my daughter had no memory, that she call me at 7 p.m. to let me know the concert was over and that she had not been trampled or worse.

I dropped my daughter at the friend’s house, the doctor-mom came out to let me know that she was a bit concerned about the concert.

Oh. I didn’t think to panic, but now that you mention it, what are you worrying about?

Like there might be something I hadn’t thought to worry about.

I reassure the doctor-mom by saying, my daughter is responsible beyond her years and has really good judgment.

I swear my daughter had not been gone for more than 20 minutes when I decided to go online and find out more about this particular band and the concert.

I go online and find out that the concert is not today! What?

You may as well have told me my daughter was being dropped off in Beirut. I was terrified. They had tickets to nowhere. The doctor-mom would drop them off and leave for the hospital. Unthinkable things would happen.

This is really my daughter’s first venture to do something without a parent or adult chaperone by her side. They are old enough to drive cars for god’s sake.

But I panic. OK, I lose it.

I contact the radio station.

I’m told not to worry, the event is a private concert of 30 people. They won tickets to something very special. The big concert, where people are trampled and worse is the next night. This is a minievent, really for the press and lucky ticket winners.

I sit back, now waiting to see if she’ll remember to call at 7 p.m. She does.

And I think, there’s something very wrong with this picture. Yes, there’s something right about it too.

College is three years from now. I need to practice letting go.

The reality of trying to prepare a teenager for the culture of today is more difficult than ever before.

Sweetheart, don’t put your soda down and go to the bathroom, someone may put a pill in your glass.

Being curious about sex is completely natural, and after all is said and done about diseases, pregnancy, the protection you will need, there’s still all of the emotional issues that come up for everyone involved. Hello, are you still listening?

There are followers, there are leaders, and while everyone can’t be a leader, you have no choice. You must be a leader because I trust your judgment more than anyone else’s.

Cyberspace is not a real location. I know it seems real. That person online may not be who you think it is.

No, you are not allowed at so-and so’s house because there are guns in that house. Teens and guns are a terrible combination.

I’m sorry that all of the clothing is cut too short for a teenage body. No bra straps showing, no belly unless you’re at the beach on a really hot day.

OK, now on to driving a car.

Sarri Gilman is a freelance writer living on Whidbey Island. Her column on living with meaning and purpose runs every other Tuesday in The Herald. She is a therapist, a wife and a mother, and has founded two nonprofit organizations to serve homeless children. You can e-mail her at features@heraldnet.com.

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