After getting home late yesterday afternoon, I got a call from my dad. The usual small talk ensued, then I finally asked the question I had wondered about.
“So when did Indigo break her phone?”
Indigo, my almost 14 yr old daughter, has gone through more phones than anyone I’ve ever met. And well, I worked at a high tech company with executives that seemed to break them every other week. The last phone, I made her pay for herself including replacement insurance. Thank goodness for the replacement insurance because that one broke 2-3 months later, and she was able to get another one.
G had texted her a couple times on our trip but we never heard anything back from her. “Shit,” I said as I shook my head, “that can only mean another broken phone. Fuck.”
“Oh, she didn’t break her phone,” my dad explained, “we took it away from her.”
I inquired as to why to which he said, “your mother will explain when you get here.”
We arrived to pick up Indigo, and Mom pulled me aside to tell me what had happened.
“I knocked on the door to the guest room because she had shut the door after I told her to leave it open for the air conditioner. I knocked then walked in and saw her mid-dress on Skype. I told her to get dressed and bring me all of the technology – we were done. I just couldn’t believe she would do that with a boy – so we banned her from computers the entire time she was here including when she was with your brothers.”
I asked about her reaction to this ban, and my dad was like “oh, she didn’t seem to care.”
I listened to the rest of it – they were pretty much leaving it to me. They seemed more worried about G’s response to it than anything. “It will break his heart so don’t tell him.” I said what was needed to conclude the conversation thinking G can handle it – then rejoined the rest of the family.
I almost confronted Indigo right then and there, but decided to wait. G was wondering how we should approach it. What should the punishment be? I suggested he let me talk to her first. I wanted her side of things before considering punishment and all.
I’m glad I did.
We as parents know when our kids are lying. Sure there are the usual tell tale signs such as no eye contact, body language that screams “I’m not telling the truth”, and voice inflection that gives it away too.
Indigo had none of those things.
She looked me dead in the eye. She stood still when she was talking. Her voice was steady. She was definitely telling me the truth.
The truth was this: She was reading an extremely popular web comic that has a side chat allowing you to talk to others reading it too. She realized she had been in her pajamas all day, so closed the door to get changed into regular clothes. That is when my mom walked in. While she was mid-dress. She was not on video chat with any of her friends. She just had her tablet PC propped so she could read it as she was changing. My mom freaked – told Indigo to give her all of her technology – then left it at that. No questions as to what was going on – nothing. Then Indigo added, “they seemed so mad and upset that I didn’t want to argue – so I gave them what they wanted and left it at that. Trying to explain didn’t seem like it would work. Plus, I had no idea what she thought I was doing.”
When G and I were talking about it later, he asked me if I believed her. “I do. What kid, if caught doing things on a skype video chat, wouldn’t be embarrassed, upset, and turned beet red?”
He agreed. He response was far from what it would be if she was doing something bad. Plus, neither one of us could see Indigo doing something like that. It just isn’t who she is.
I shook my head as we talked. “What?” G asked.
What – oh what.
I love my mother, but this response – these assumptions without conversation – were totally in line with how it went when I was a teenager. I recall being 1 minute late from curfew, and she was freaking out convinced I was late because I was out doing drugs and having sex. I recall once when I misread a clock at a basketball game. When I realized it, I called home to say “oh fuck, I misread the clock – sorry” only to find out that she was searching the streets as if I had decided to take up the fine art of prostitution and I was looking for my first trick. Many exchanges between us ended with me in total frustration, throwing up my hands contemplating how maybe I should just do what she thinks I was out doing so that at least I was getting this shit for valid reasons.
She was raised a Catholic. Sex was dirty. Girls were easily tricked into giving it up. Boys were the bad guys luring the girls into sin. And I’m surprised she didn’t condone the use of chastity devices to ensure the purity of the girls.
It was yet another way she and I didn’t see eye-to-eye. She had no reason not to trust me, yet she didn’t trust me because I was an easily corruptible “girl”.
My dad, on the other hand, didn’t buy into it. He believed quite openly that if someone tried something I didn’t like that he would be getting a phone call with a request to bring a town because I needed to wipe the blood of my date off my hands. Yeah, he did not raise a victim.
All of this flashed before me as I was listening to Indigos’s account of things.
I told G all of it. I love my mom, but I don not trust her account of things. Honestly, she is the master of jumping to conclusions first – and never validating her assumptions. I’m having flashbacks.
Neither G or I want to shame our kids for their sexuality or exploring it. We have a very open dialog about such things in the house. We agreed our tact would be to believe Indigo – assume Grandma was overreacting – and issue a stern warning.
I took Indigo her technology.
“I trust you and I believe you – don’t prove me wrong.”
“Moe, I’m not that kind of a girl – you know that right?” Indigo pleaded.
“Yeah, I do. I didn’t raise victims or kids who would easily compromise who they are for a ‘friend’. Don’t prove me wrong,” I warned.
We continued to talk – and, in the end, I knew my gut was right though I warned her that Moe would be watching – it’s my job.
“I know it is – I won’t let you down,” she reassured.
What a weird trip this ended up being for me – a trip to 30 years ago when I was in Indigo’s shoes with my mom making the wrong assumptions about me.
I guess in the end, I just want my girls to view sex as not a shameful thing but a natural part of life – of growing up, but have enough self worth to not be convinced to give it up in a manipulative fashion. And, well, that is now how I was raised….