Tuesday, November 15, 2011


We're going to try something that we've never done before. I'm not sure that it will be successful; I'm just hoping that we don't find ourselves regretting it.

A girl whom my daughter knows from color guard graduated from high school two years ago and started at a tech school type college. Some time afterward, she became pregnant by an unemployed man who was twice divorced and had already fathered two children. The girl dropped out of school and is now living with her parents and the child. She works at a McJob, to which she has to be driven because she doesn't have car insurance. She describes her father as 'loving her in his own weird way'; also, 'a control freak'. He kicked the boyfriend, who was living with them, out of their house twice, and he kicked her out of the house once, even before all of this started, while she was still in school. And, she's bipolar.

Two weeks ago, we took her with use to see my daughter (and others) perform at a high school football game. She seemed to really appreciate it. We got to see the control freak style in action; the father called her twice in the fifteen minutes it took us to get to the football game. I heard her say you're being a bit of a controller, again, Dad. But she seemed to enjoy the game, and she really enjoyed seeing the girls of color guard again. I suspect it reminded her of happier days.

Three days ago, she texted my wife, asking if she could come with her son to live with us. She offered to 'contribute to expenses, if necessary'.

We were stunned. After much thought, we concluded that we did not want to do this. Multiple reasons: we didn't want the responsibility of having to bring her to work, and babysitting for her while she was there. We didn't want the control freak father to be calling us frequently to see what she was doing. We didn't want the boyfriend showing up, let alone, wanting to move in. It all just sounded too scary for us. On the other hand, we didn't want to abandon her. I wouldn't say she was desperate, but she gave off something like that vibe. And maybe the father is a control freak, but fathers - good ones - want to know that their kids are okay. And, who knows, maybe her estimate of this boyfriend as a great guy is valid. I doubt it, but maybe. So we contacted some people we knew and asked them: are there agencies in this area that could help this kid get her life going again? (One friend warned us that she sounded like she was ripe to move in and drop into 'daughter mode', where the parents handle and pay for everything. We think so, too.) But each of them came up with two or three support possibilities, some of which sound pretty good. So we replied back. We said that we didn't want to let us live with us, but we would like to talk with her about some possibilities. Could she come over for dinner?

This weekend, we're having her over, and we're going to lay out what we found. And we'll see what happens. It may be that she arrives thinking that she has a chance to talk us into it. You put things softly - we're not comfortable in having you live with us - and people can draw such conclusions. We might have to be harsher than we like to be. My wife thinks that just the experience of getting out of the house, being away from the father, will be good for her. I hope so.

And I hope that she doesn't beg.


STAG said...

Hah...five will get you ten that she is pregnant, and looking for a nest. Or planning to.

The boy friend is the deal breaker. Not her dad. If the sun really does shine out of his ass, then he can get a job, pay for an apartment and set up house. You know...like a man should! He is probably not bad news, but hey...he is a boy, and boys don't grow up until they hit 24...you know that!

Why are you even considering this? She is a grown up....she can make her own bed and sleep in it. Or has nobody ever told her to put her big girl panties on and take responsibility for herself before?

(I almost deleted this because when I put it down in writing, it sounds so harsh. But hey...it is what it is. Life is harsh! Fair is where you go for cotton candy.)

Cerulean Bill said...

She's not pregnant. Her son is a little over a year old.

I agree, the boy friend should get a job. But as my daughter reminds me, I don't know that he isn't trying. It's the track record that scares me.

As for responsibility, maybe not. And we're not planning to adopt her. But she needs help, and we're willing to dip our toe in that lake.

genderist said...

Bless her heart. So good of you guys to help her get on her feet, but I wouldn't want her in my house either.

Let's be hopeful that she is looking for some adult mentors and not new parental figures.

I'm looking forward to the update. Will send good vibes your way that the dinner goes well.

(and you can still get pregnant 6-10 weeks after a pregnancy, FYI)

Cerulean Bill said...

I don't really know, but I suspect she wants to get out of her house and away from her father. (How does the mother feel about this, I wonder.)

It is most unusual for me to want to do this. I normally isolate myself from most people. I empathize, but that's it. But she asked for help from people that she doesn't really know. I didn't like the image of myself as the person who would flat-out say no.

Though I did think Better be careful. Don't ever be alone with her. Just in case...

STAG said...

of course she wants to get away from her dad. Kids are programmed that way. The tensions of living at home with a baby are very high. Imagine the tensions and stresses of living in welfare housing and searching out day care! So she won't go into "daughter" mode...she is chafing to be out on her own. (Thats a good thing withall)
But you are clearly a very nurturing person. You open up your house to strangers on an exchange program, and are a little upset that your girl is going off to college, and on a subconscious level, you may be fearing a quiet and empty house. I get that.

Will you be able to say no to her smoking in the house? Or having friends over? Or bringing the boyfriend in the house? Or having her parents over visiting? Will you want or even be able to prevent a father from seeing his baby? A grandmother from seeing her grandson? How about when he brings his friends home with him.
Why your house though? Why not a walk up apartment downtown? Near to her work?

I dunno. I would explain to your young tenant that your rules would end up being way stricter than they were at home. That baby sitting duties might be fine for a week or so, but not for a year. That you are not a taxi or a bus service. And then a gentle reminder that life is a lot harder when you don't have mom and dad there to help with diaper changes and 3 AM feedings. And of course, you have a great deal of sympathy for her, and absolutely no desire to even meet the boyfriend let alone allow him to live in your house.
I fear that he will come with the package though.

Who knows....things might turn out well. And pigs might fly.

Discuss alternatives with her.

Have you chatted with her father? Would you not want some stranger who YOUR daughter was going to live with have a chat with YOU?

Oh well...I expect this is nothing you have not thought about. One thing you should discuss...
The exit strategy. Surely this won't be forever, so how will it end? And when?

Cerulean Bill said...

Quick answr, because I'm out the door -- she's NOT going to stay with us! This is so we can tell her about programs we asked about, that might help. But the conversation started with 'you can't stay here'.

Nurturing? Me? Pfah.

STAG said...

Your secret is safe with me.

Cerulean Bill said...

I could make a coarse comment, but then it would be locked in the bowels of the interweb, forever cast in unbreakable glass, forever undeniable.

So I'll simply say "That's not how I think of myself, for anyone but my immediate family."

If it helps, this is part of my checklist for the conversation (which occurs tonight):

We will listen, and discuss, and offer moral support.
We will invite you to our home for dinner and conversation every couple of months, for a year.

We will not judge.
We will not take sides.
We will not let you move in with us, even temporarily.
We will not tell you what you should do with your life.