Always follow your mother's intuition. I finally understand what my mom meant when she would tell me she "just knows things." This week, I just knew.
Dylan received an iPhone at the beginning of the school year. He comes home by himself and we don't have a home phone so we agreed he would get an iPhone for his 14th birthday. That way Zoe could get his hand me down phone to have in the house in case there were times when she would get home and Dylan was not already here. While I know some parents who actually have written contracts for cell phones, Dave and I just agreed on some boundaries with Dylan. First and foremost, the phone belongs to us. It is our property. At any time we can take the phone for a random phone check. We can (and will) look at messages, photos, apps, and anything else we want. Because after all...it is OUR phone. Over the last 6 months we've had frequent phone checks. Dylan would laugh because he said he was always nervous even though there wasn't anything to be nervous about. And there wasn't.
Skip forward to this week:
I had a feeling. I knew it was time for a phone check. So I went in, said "random phone check" and saw an absolute panic come across my teenagers face. A look that made my stomach sink. I knew this wasn't going to be just an ordinary phone check. And it wasn't.
As a parent blogger, as my kids have grown older I've had to decide what to share and what not. They deserve their privacy. So to protect my son's privacy I'm not going to share his story, but only mine.
My son grabbed me and gave me a hug of somebody who was fighting for his life. I could feel his desperation. As we hugged, everything came out. I knew everything I would find on the phone.
I couldn't think. I wasn't ready.
I sat and listened. I cried. I didn't let him go. He didn't let me go.
After about a half hour we finally parted and I left with the phone.
As I did the usual phone check, I felt sick.
My son who I had worked so hard to protect had been put in some situations that I did not think he would be in. At least not at 14. Nothing that was earth changing and thankfully nothing that would have consequences beyond embarrassment. To be honest, to some it may not have even been a big deal at all, but to our family it was big enough.
It was parenting showtime. Time to have some more talks. Deeper talks.
So we did.
It's been an awkward week. I know my son is embarrassed and I am sad. We had a couple quiet breakfasts and evenings. But, I didn't let him shut me out. I hugged him. I told him I loved him and that nothing would change that.
As the week has gone by, things are getting back to normal, thankfully. I'm getting my boy back. A little older. A little wiser. But, I'm getting him back. As things have settled I can't help, but think he wanted us to know. He wanted advice. He wanted us to help him. I'm glad that I just knew.
It would have been easier to not look at the phone. It would have been easier to not have the conversations. It would have been easier to just ignore. But, I love my kid too much.
So for all my friends who are in the same boat with me of parenting teenagers, STAY STRONG! Stay involved. Keep talking. Keep being a parent. It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.