I love you. But what you did is really not good. When adults do what you did, they can end up in jail. Since you are a kid, you won’t go to jail, but you will have some serious consequences.
Back to school today after the holiday break. It was a faculty work day, and we are heading into the last two weeks of the semester. A busy time of grading and planning. And then my 7th grade daughter’s assistant principal called.Apparently my daughter had logged into another student’s school account last week while she was at my ex-wife’s house, and sent out nasty emails to other students trying to get the girl in trouble. (Oh and that call came an hour after I received an email from her digital literacy teacher telling me that my child was one of several who had been Googling during another child’s presentation.) So the rest of the day was spent in emails with the ex, special education teachers, and my daughter’s mentor and therapist. Needless to say, I am still not ready to teach fetal pig dissection and biodiesel energy content tomorrow.
One thing that must be said is that my daughter has struggled her whole life. Middle school social dynamics and the proper use of technology at school (and at home…she has not been allowed on the computer at my house for several weeks since she was caught playing video games at a time she knew she was not allowed to) are just her most current struggle.
You see, my daughter is a former foster kiddo. She was removed from her birth home at the age of three due to neglect. She was in a “start-stop” foster care situation for the next three years, until my ex-wife and I took her in at the age of six. My daughter for the last 7 years (tomorrow is her 13th birthday and it will be the first day of two in-school detentions) has struggled with a bunch of acronyms, RAD, PTSD, ADHD, and an Asperger’s diagnosis. In many ways she is delayed for her age and in many other ways she is way too mature. It has not been an easy seven years, and divorce (and her mother’s infidelity and cancer…a stories for another day) has not helped. She has come a loooooong way, and with the help of mentors and therapists she is doing really well in many ways. However, making good choices, especially in social and technological contexts, is not one of her strengths.
So. A workday was derailed. The ex is on the warpath (she is very hard on our daughter). And Divorced Dad had to make a decision on how to handle the situation. I came home to find her locked in her bedroom. I opened the door with a paperclip and found her asleep. She had been crying. I told her to never lock the door like that again and went downstairs to begin dinner. I was not ready to deal. 15 minutes later she tried to sneak into the kitchen to hand me her declaration of what should happen to her. (My daughter likes to write). I told her to take it back. She was not going to be part of deciding her consequences, and not getting dinner for a week is not a real consequence.
I called her down for dinner when it was ready (Taco Monday…no comment). She ate with us quietly. I asked her if she had homework, which she did. She went back upstairs, closed the door, and worked. I went upstairs about an hour later and this is what I said:
“I love you. But what you did is really not good. When adults do what you did, they can end up in jail. Since you are a kid, you won’t go to jail, but you will have some serious consequences. I don’t know what they will be yet, but I can tell you that you won’t like them. I am very proud of you for many of the things you do. But not this. I am disappointed that you chose to try and hurt the other girl by sending those emails. I love you. Prepare yourself for consequences that you won’t like.” <Kiss on the head>
Tomorrow is her 13th birthday. I need to go wrap her first cell phone (a flip phone with no internet access) at 10:00 pm, for which I am paying an extra $5 a month so that I can severely limit who she is able to call and text. I decided to give her this new tech which she has been begging for, but I will wait to add her friends’ numbers until she has earned trust back.
Tweens tire Divorced Dad out. I hope her teens are better.