Yesterday was crazy.
I am the organizer of our street's annual block party. It isn't a big job, since all there is to do is pick a day, make and hand out flyers a few weeks ahead of time, make sure there are enough grills, tables, chairs, name tags, etc. Everyone brings their meat, utensils, drinks, and a side dish or dessert to share. Not too complicated... Unless you have kids that need extra attention because of FASD, RAD, trauma, etc.
I had my day planned out pretty nicely. Since we took over the end of the cul-de-sac, I had to wait until about 15 minutes before the start to bring out the tables and chairs. Well, that's when I got the call from some boy about my daughter. He said she was lying to us and was seeing boys, including him. He said he was 17. She just turned 13. I told him to stay away from her, she's jail bait and a silly 13 yo, and yes, I'm not surprised about the lying. She was supposed to be walking a neighbor dog with a girl who is a friend, so Hubby went out to find her. Well, we kept seeing her and losing her. She had the dog on our street, but had to put him away. She went to her friend's house so she could have someone to be with at the block party. Hubby was having a hard time keeping up and finding her. I was wondering where he was while I was getting the party going. Once he was out looking for her and she had been in her bedroom. This searching was not what we needed. Later one of my other daughters talked to her and Ms. D said she likes to spend time with boys better than girls because of all the girl drama in the neighborhood, which I believe. Some of those girls have real problems and often pick fights. The problem is that my kids don't know what nonverbal signals they put out. People often misread them. My kids do lie. My kids don't have good self control. They need more boundaries than normal kids their age.
During the block party, the kids were playing in eyeshot, but unfortunately, not within earshot. It looked like all were having a good time, playing football and hockey in the street and riding their bikes. But my son told a friend on another block to get lost because he didn't live on our street. My son still takes some things to an extreme literal level. Another neighbor boy had a hunting knife and threatened my son's friend. Of course, the friend ran home to his parents and Hubby had to deal with more kid drama because the friend's family were concerned that my son and the other boy were threatening theirs. I was wondering why Hubby wasn't spending time with the neighbors at the party. Later Hubby found out that the kid with the knife threatened other kids with the knife, touched my daughter's stomach with it in front of little kids and was being careless and stupid. So Hubby went to the knife kid's house to talk to the parents. It was not a good evening for Hubby. I had no idea any of this was happening until it was all over.
Today we'll have a talk about my kids' behavior and why would they not tell an adult about something so dangerous as a 10 year old kid with no sense and a hunting knife. It will be interesting what they come up with.
I guess the saddest thing for me right now is that I feel so jaded. I would have been shocked and angry if someone accused my older kids of lying or behaving badly. With the younger ones I'm not surprised. I expect it. Of course she lies. Of course he bullies. Yes they can be sweet, caring, helpful, and have a bunch of great qualities when they are not stressed and closely supervised. But add a little stress and it's like someone reaches into their brains and switches something, so that their personalities completely change. It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They often don't remember what they did when they were dysregulated. It's kind of sad.
Right now the biggest challenges and needs in raising them is to reduce stress, give them consistency and boundaries, and to provide structure in their life at a time when most kids are starting to spread their wings. It's a whole new way of parenting teens than how I parented my other kids. But I guess I've had to parent the youngest differently all along. I sure do need God's wisdom in all of this.