Handling a Difficult Teen During Hurricane Threat
The Storm Before the Storm
The morning had been sunny and clear, but family plans to evacuate took on a stormy atmosphere, even before the arrival of the hurricane. The eye of the emotional storm centered around the 14-year-old female. Understand, mind you, that her life had been unusually undisciplined, as conceptual parents had been using illicit drugs. Growing up for her meant living with first one parent, then the other, back and forth again and again, a bit like a yo-yo on a string. It’s not surprising that the young lady had a number of insecurities.
With the physical storm still a half day away, the young teen Sharia tested the metal of her birth father and stepmother by proposing her own version of an evacuation plan.
"I can go with my mother if I don't take my parakeet," Sharia said.
“You won’t be going with your mother, you’re coming with us,” responded her father.
“But there’s the possibility I still might go with her because she said I could if I didn’t bring the parakeet.”
“No, it’s already settled,” came the masculine voice.
“I can talk to her,” said Sharia. On some level, she wanted to see Moms and Pops, her mother’s parents again, as she had not seen them in a long time. Sharia did not state her feelings about them this morning, though.
“You can call her and talk to her all you want,” voiced the step-mom, “but that won’t change the decision.”
Sharia felt as if she had been standing in front of a steam roller, and it had just run over her--still, she was going to try to change the decision that she dreaded.
The young teen went to her room, locked the door and, with her own personal cell phone, called her mother. She talked a long time. Nothing was settled.
The scenario of much roundabout discussions over whether the parakeet should go along ensued. Sharia held onto her defensive, hopeless position.
Finally, the step-mom confronted her. “You’re demanding that you bring the parakeet along if you come with us, but you are quite willing to go with your mother without the bird! You’re making this demand because you think the trip with your mother will be all peaches-and-cream, but that if you come with us, you’ll be miserable without your bird!”
A quarter hour or so passed. The step-mom tried to get Sharia to drink or eat something and further encouraged her to work on virtual school assignments, as Sharia had flunked eighth grade and needed to do makeup work before she could be at the grade level for her age group.
The step-mom insisted. The packing preparations were well under way and there was still ample time before the storm was supposed to hit.
Sharia started to get up from the dining chair where she had been sitting in an effort to dodge female authority, but the step-mom grabbed her too large hoodie.
Sharia sat down and began to hyperventilate. Tears soon streamed from her eyes.
Calming the Teenaged Girl
I walked nearer while my daughter still held onto Sharia's hoodie. I put my arms around Sharia. “You’re all right,” I comforted in a slow, calm voice. “No one is forcing you to do anything. Breathe. The morning is sunny. The flower and birds outdoors are beautiful. You are beautiful. The child in your heart wants you to be happy. Remember that child, happy and carefree. Breathe.”
Sharia began to relax, and I excused myself to attend to my laundry that had finished drying.
A little later we learned that Sharia’s mother didn’t want to take any animals along--not even her own pet cat and dog. Sharia felt bad about the idea of leaving them behind, yet she somehow ratified her mother’s decision enough to prefer making the trip with her.
Before the morning ended, Sharia joined me outdoors to secretly seek my guidance. I was not a threat to her away from the immediate parental structure, and she felt she could trust me after the help I gave her during the hyperventilating scenario.
We began to talk.
I gently, yet with an air of enthusiasm, explained that happiness was our natural state, and that we actually had to work to be unhappy. I spoke to her about how pure colors--bright, lemon yellow; emerald green; royal blue; pink or rose; purple; violet to change negative feelings into positive ones; and uplifting, pristine white--could help us feel good about ourselves by wearing them or using them for decoration.
Sharia was thoughtful.
In the end, the more relaxed teen was able to surrender to authority, and I stayed with the house during the harsh winds and rain while the rest of the family traveled out-of-state for safety.
I was able to maintain composure during the hurricane and report on the few damages when the threat ended. The parakeet did fine, too.
© 2019 Marie Flint