Saturday, July 30, 2016

Disappearing acts?

As we head into the final full month of summer, I'm struck by how different things are this year from last. Not working has changed so many perspectives both for Earbaby and me. For one, I've become a full-time chauffeur, and that fall weekend where EB pleaded with me to take the company's buyout so we could have more time together is a long-gone memory. It was great in concept, but it was also before the Incredibly Cute Boyfriend became such an integral part of her social life.

So it will be as interesting in the month ahead as it has been in the previous one to see how EB's relationship plays out with ICB. Can we say separation anxiety?

It all started with the end of school. Our little family unit of three, EB, her dad and I, took a trip to Ireland and Scotland with her school group. It actually was EB's idea a couple of years ago, after her foray into Paris and Rome. The teacher who leads these EF Tours is amazing and EB had such a great, fun and safe time on the last trip, we figured we could go as a family to at least her dad's "homeland." (At least kind of, his family is from the other side of the island.) We went to Dublin, Belfast, and Edinburgh, Scotland. And although her dad and I were on the same trip, we didn't try to cramp her style. She always roomed with her friends and most times hung out with them. A few times she wandered over to spend some time with us, but we didn't want to spend time "parenting" her. She had done just fine without us in Paris and Rome two years ago; she didn't need us checking up to see if she was eating her vegetables and getting enough sleep.

The only hiccup in the trip was EB's burying her head in her phone, staying in touch with friends (especially ICB) every day despite the time difference. We had an international plan for emergencies, but EB assured us she was only using WiFi to communicate. Well, we all found out differently when the bill came a couple of weeks after we got back. There is no WiFi chatting or Face timing on our model of phone, and the international minutes bill came up to more than $1,300! After her dad hit the roof and left the bill for me to see, I took a closer look. Turned out the international plan hadn't been implemented, so a call to the carrier revealed the error and almost $1,000 was taken off. Problem solved, but I still made them both say out loud, that yes, I am a Queen.

But it also showed the intensity of the relationship. It doesn't seem dangerous, manipulative, or coercive. But she had to see him the day we came home. We got in July 4th and she must have been jet lagged. And it was like that practically every day, except when she went to a concert with a girlfriend. Then he and his mom went on vacation. They hung out every day after work before he went, even the night before, despite his early morning flight. Exasperated, I told her she had to come home, he was going on vacation for a week, not off to war!

And yes, they were communicating every day while he and his mom were in London and Paris and she and I picked them up from the airport (we live very close by) when they returned. I am trying to be sensitive to the fact that he is getting ready to go away to college and their lives will change quite a bit in another month. I know I can't shield either of them from what might inevitably end in heartbreak, but I would like to see more of an expansion in their friendship base. When she stays out later than she says she will (1 or 2 a.m. is unacceptable even in the summer), she comes home with a pissy attitude. When she does go out with others, or when he spends time with his friends, she is more open and less defensive and sullen about coming home at a decent time.

And there is the hiding. Before ICB, she would have friends, both male and female come over to the house. It wasn't unusual for her to ask if friends could sleep over. But that was also before her irreparable falling out with both Brenda and Maria. She has a new BFF in a lovely girl, Charisse, so I'm not too worried about the full isolation. EB tells me she doesn't bring ICB around (and even he wants to get to know us a little better) because her dad is too corny and tries too hard, and she thinks I might "bother them" with snacks or whatever. I think it's because she is embarrassed and self conscious about just how much she cares about him. Am I worried that this relationship includes risky behaviors like drugs, alcohol or (gasp!) sex? Honestly, I don't know. EB knows all the dangers and consequences and I have to at this point trust her to make intelligent choices. If she makes all the wrong choices, well, those will be hard lessons learned.

No matter. I would have liked us to spend more time together before I find another job. This summer has been a waste in that department and I have sometimes wished I had ignored those pleas to spend more time as a family and just kept working. I actually do acknowledge the intensity of first love and I even understand she needs to detach from us. As we start our college search season, I'm preparing myself for her exit from the nest. I just wish she didn't feel the need to poison it first.

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