Mom Has a Date
My first foster child, Alisa came from a bedroom community about 30 miles east of our town. We lived in a big city. I was a single parent, and Alisa’s home town had a much higher median income. The large public high school for our community was very diverse, and the students frequently came from struggling families. Although this was a radical departure from Alisa’s origins, she accepted these differences graciously and liked school. Alisa joined the army JROTC affiliated with this high school and seemed to have some success. In spite of her usual good conduct, there was one incident which raised a red flag. Alisa chose to wait in the car while I went into a store. When I returned to the car, she was handing a slip of paper to a man who appeared to be the same age as me (I was 43) with her phone number (which was my number) on the paper. I growled at him to get away from my daughter and he quickly left. This was a disquieting reminder that some kids have the potential to do frightening things when left alone even for a few minutes.
Alisa was given a color guard assignment for JROTC. She seemed pleased and proud. I made the mistaken assumption that school and JROTC sponsored activities would always include adult supervision. The color guard assignment was to perform the opening ceremony for a major Shriner’s meeting at a large hotel. I took Alisa and a classmate to the hotel and agreed to pick them when they were ready. Alisa called me for her return ride home much later than I expected, and she asked me to pick her up at a restaurant near the hotel. On the way home, she explained that a Shriner gave her money to get dinner. Of course, I know that I probably did not get all the details. The next day, I went to the high school to let the JROTC teacher know how I felt about the lack of supervision, and that this was a child who needed supervision. I had assumed that school functions included a responsible adult. He was extremely apologetic and assured me that I would always know in the future if JROTC functions were not going to be supervised if my child was included. Then, he asked if I would be willing to go to dinner with him one night. This was totally unexpected.
I did not know how to respond to this invitation; I almost looked behind me as if he was addressing someone else. I told him it was an interesting but unexpected thought and asked him to call when I wasn’t so distracted. He did call me; we went out to a really nice dinner and had several more dates. One evening he called and said he would like to meet the girls and he would bring some pizza and videos. My ten year old, Ivy, was outraged. She said; “you tell him to bring the pizza and movies and LEAVE!” I was stunned. She had done very well sharing me with foster siblings, but this was a new development she had not considered. It was vital that she knew this was not her decision to make, but I also wanted to be sensitive to her limits. I did not address this issue with my girls anymore; the problem solved itself because my gentleman friend showed up with no videos or pizza when we expected them. That was the first of the closing stages of this relationship, but it did get me thinking.
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