Am I Over-Reacting?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by DaisyFace, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Good Morning All--

    A little background:

    difficult child is not one of those middle-school girls with a whole group of friends. She receives very few phone calls. She does not have steady girlfriends that she hangs out at the mall with, or has sleepovers with...any visit to a friends house is a big deal.

    The school bus stops directly at our house. At the beginning of the school year, while difficult child was waiting for the bus, a car pulled over at the side of the road and difficult child ran over and hopped right in. I didn't recognize the car... So I called the school to make sure difficult child had arrived. She had.
    Later that day, I talked to difficult child about accepting rides to school with people (she said "O that was a girl from my bus--I saw her in the passenger seat so I knew it was OK"). Regardless, I told her, you are to ride the bus. I explained that we want to know where she is and that she is safe, yadda yadda yadda.

    This week, the kids have a substitute bus driver. Now it happens that the elementary school kids are picked up first, and then the same driver comes back and picks up the middle school kids. My son has been complaining that the new driver gets him to school late. difficult child really had nothing to say on the subject.

    This morning, the bus pulled up to the house....sat for a few minutes...and left. difficult child never got on...but somehow made it to school just the same. Obviously, this must have been happening all week--but because I am busy getting ready myself in the morning, it is the first day that I saw the bus leave my house without my child.

    I am furious! I have no idea who she is riding with! And she has chosen not to mention a word of it to her parents despite us having conversations about the new bus driver with her brother at the dinner table.

    So what do you think? Am I over-reacting? How serious is this? It seems to me that if you had a friend who could give you a ride to school, you might say "Hey Mom, is it all right if I catch a ride to school with Anna tomorrow?" But no such request...

    And because difficult child has no regular friends that she hangs out with...I don't have the slightest idea who I could even call to say "Hey, thanks for picking up my daughter, but it really isn't necessary."

    How would you handle this?

    Thanks for any suggestions,

  2. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    You are not over reacting at all. You should demand to meet the parent driving your child. One day we got a report that the bus was going to be 2 hrs late (maintenance issue). I had a van that can hold 8. I stopped at the bus stop with my cell phone, any child that could call their parent for permission could have a ride, those who could not had to go home. No parent should give another child a ride without parental permission. Talk to her or wait with her at the bus stop. But no you did not over react.
  3. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I think it is pretty serious. Not only is she riding with someone you don't know, she is being deceptive.

    I would surprise her on Monday by going out with her to wait for the bus. Then you will see who comes to pick her up. You can talk to the driver and explain your daughter doesn't have permission to ride with them or you can decide it is ok.
  4. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Thanks, Marf!

    We are assuming it is a parent...but it could just as easily be some high school boy with a car.

  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I would be going thru the roof and I would make sure that whomever put my minor child into their car and drove off without my permission understood that I might call cops on them next time.
  6. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I think the deliberate deception is the worst aspect of this issue. If a friend's mom or dad could give you a ride to school--why wouldn't you mention it? Why wouldn't the friend call the night before and say "Hey do you want a ride in the morning? We'll pick you up at 7:30."

    This kind of sneakiness really infuriates me! And that's also where I'm concerned that I'm over-reacting. Is difficult child really deliberately lying to me? Or is it completely innocent and it just does not occur to difficult child that it would be a big deal to her parents that she got into a car with an acquaintance without seeking permission or notifying anyone of what she is doing?

  7. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    That never occurred to me...but you are absolutely right! I know that I would never dream of taking anyone else's child anywhere without parental consent.
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Well, that's after a mom of another boy at school let my son spend the night and I had no idea where he was. He was 11yo, took the bus home with this boy, told the boy's mom that I said he could spend the night. He had no clothes or any other indicator that he'd gone to school that day prepared for a sleep-over, we'd never met or spoken, and she apparently bought that story. I went thru the roof. I told her I can't imagine EVER having an 11 yo sleep in my house without directly talking with the parent.

    But, difficult child has had a good friend in our neighborhood and they've spent the night with each other several times, his mom and I spoke several times, they've been allowed to go out with each others' families. He lives 4 blocks from us. One day I picked up difficult child at the bus stop because it was pouring down rain, and I did offer to give this boy a ride to his house so he wouldn't have to walk in the rain.

    Still- if I were you, I'd start out by finding out who is driving her and determining if it is a well-intentioned parent first. If so, they should have spoken to you about it. It could be some perverted man acting like a well-intentioned parent, too.

    And as far as I'm concerned- there is a BIG difference between a 13yo and a 17 yo even if the 13 yo is giving their consent.
  9. robinm1922

    robinm1922 One day at a time

    One more thing to think about before you get upset with the other parent. Your difficult child may have told this parent (assuming it is an adult) that you know she is riding and are all right with it, if a car is in the driveway then the other parent may not think it is a problem.
    I can't tell you how many friends of my difficult child I have picked up without a parent coming out to meet me! I would never do that, I like to see and meet the person driving my daughter and she knows it. Some parents either don't think about it don't worry about it, maybe this parent thinks that is the way you are.

    Just a thought before you get too upset with the parent.
    I would be at the bus stop when she gets home to get to the bottom of it, watch from the door on Monday and catch her before she leaves.
    Best of luck,
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hmm. Weird.
    I'm guessing the other parent thinks s/he is doing something good, but you would be amazed at how many parents don't even think to talk to other kids' parents. Grrr.
    Standing at the bus stop would be a good idea.
  11. bran155

    bran155 Guest

    No you are not over reacting at all!!! I think you must be extra careful because of the lack of friends she has. She wants to belong so she is less picky about who she will hang out with. My daughter has always been that way. She too never really had any real friends. Poor thing, she will hang out with whomever will accept her for the day. She has been known to get into cars with strangers just to have someone to hang out with. It is very scary.

    Use your "Mom Radar", your gut will tell a lot!!!

    Good luck and God bless. :)
  12. bran155

    bran155 Guest

    I am on board with standing at the bus stop too. Good idea. Meet the other parent. Like Terry said he/she probably thinks nothing of it.
  13. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree with finding out who is driving, I'm sure the other parent probably thinks it is o.k.
  14. cadydid

    cadydid New Member

    Please do not think you are over reacting. It's in our nature to want to protect our kids. It's our job to protect them, whether they like it or not. Kids can think we are being over protective all they want in my opinion.. I tell mine they won't understand it until they have kids of their own.

    I gave a ride home to my daughter friend yesterday because the wind was brutal. When I pulled up to the house, I walked the girl to her door and let her mom know that I took her home because of the wind and cold weather. Her mom said thank you for letting her know.. that she was concerned when she saw the car pull up and she did not recognize it. She thought it might have been a friend that he daughter was not supposed to be with. I gave her my phone number and let her know that while I wont be able to give her a ride home that often, I can give her a ride to school. She appreciated it and asked if she could call me later.. they are new around here and she doesn't know hardly anyone.. so it looks like I have made a new friend :)
  15. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    That was a very nice and appropriate way to handle it!! I don;t think most mothers would mind that at all and would consider that a very neighborly gesture!!
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Daisy, are you over-reacting? Yes, and no. OK, my views could be due to cultural differences here.

    First, I do believe you are right to be concerned. I also agree, the deception is the biggest problem here. And yes, you do have a right to know where your child is, and who with, at all times.

    BUT - you need to temper this with the knowledge that she IS getting older, typical teen stuff is going to get in the way and if you try to over-control her world then she will do just what she is doing now (ie what she wants, and lie about it). That is a VERY bad pattern to allow.

    So what I suggest - let her know that you are aware she is being deceitful, and THAT is the crime here. You want her safe and therefore you MUST at least know who she is with. In the same way, YOU need to keep HER informed of where YOU will be and when you will be back. This is a common courtesy rule which applies in our home to all household members, regardless of age. husband will always ring me if he's held up on the way home from work (trains running late; bad weather; need to stop and get fuel). Siimilarly, if I go out shopping instead of staying home all day, I let husband know even though, with him at work, it's no skin off his noe. But he might want me to get something that he hasn't yet put on the shopping list, for example. Or there could be some other reason for him knowing. It also means that if something goes wrong then he is able to come to the rescue more accurately.

    So rather than getting loudly angry with your daughter, I wouldsit down and work on a solution. I see your son's point of view - getting to school late is annoying, it can get you into trouble, I've sat in a school office and listened to a teacher interrogating students going to the office for a late pass, and can really understand what would make kids tell fantastic lies in order to prevent being in that situation. I'm an adult, and I wanted to stand up and lie to this woman! (Ironically, I was waiting for a meeting with the acting principal, who had beenso adamant about the meeting beginning at 9 am that I had been forced to pay money I could ill-afford to put difficult child 3 into before school care, in order to make the meeting - and the deputy was running late, so late I needn't have paid for the child care after all. I was sorely tempted to interrogate the acting principal using the same techniques).

    Anyway, I think you need to sort out what is happening, above all else. Get to know the person driving your daughter, let them know your ground rules ("we tell each other where we will be, with whom and when we will be home") and make it clear that while you are grateful for their help especially while the bus route is such a mess, you DO need to be informed and they may not have realised this.

    I don't think you need to ground her. She will be mortified enough at being caught, and the inevitable loss of trust is its own punishment. She needs to know this - next time she says she's gonig somewhere, it will take much more convincing than usual, for you to believe her.

    At 13, she beleives she can now make her own adult decisions. It goeswith being a 13 year old girl. And frankly, taking out your parental concerns, I think it wascreative of her, to find someone she felt safe with to give her a lift to school instead of the risk of being late. To make her decision on the basis of another girl she knows also being in the car - that was good decision, FOR A 13 YEAR OLD GIRL. From a parental point of view, not good enough. She needs to know that her choices are not a safety guarantee - the other girl could have been foolish and accepted a lift from either a stranger, or a predator she happens to know as a friend. Being together is no guarantee of protection - to help her get THIS message, sit with her and Google "Ivan Milat", the "backpacker murderer". Young adults, either singly or with friend or partner, were vanishing while on holiday. Milat was not necessarily just a stranger who picked up hitchhikers, he often made friends with them first so they didn't feel they were accepting a lift from a stranger. And they undoubtedly felt, "My friend is with me, I am safe."

    The only reason Milat got caught, is someone got away. And even then, the information nearly got lost and more people died before that knowledge came to light.

    The reason the guy killed so many people - nobody knew where these people were, not exactly. They weren't expected at a certain time or even on a certain date. As a result, hours, days and weeks were able to pass during which the crime could be committed, the killer cover his tracks and tidy up.

    It's an ADULT thing as well as good common sense, to let people know your whereabouts. mother in law sometimes catches our village shopping bus. There are two shopping bus days a week. One day before Christmas, she met up with me while I was out and about so she could return later. What I didn't know, was she had failed to let the bus driver (or any other passengers) know that she was doing this. As a result the shopping bus return was held up, while the shopping centre was searched to see if somewhere was a little old lady fallen, or carted off to hospital.

    mother in law getting a lift home with me was no skin off the bus driver's nose, he just needed to know for commonsense and safety reasons. She's an adult, all she had to do was tell someone so they wouldn't worry and could continue on.

    In the same way, we tell one another our movements.

    So if your daughter wants Occupational Therapist (OT) get a lift instead of catch the bus, then what she SHOULD do is let you know, and make sure you have the contact information of these people. If your house rules also require that you have already met these people, then so be it. They shouldalso have your phone number, in the event of a problem - a nosebleed, perhaps, that has them take her to the emergency room.

    We live in a small village, I could be driving home and see someone struggling with a heavy bag in the rain (assuming it ever rains!) and give them a lift. Yes, I sometimes give a lift to a school student I happen to know, even if their family doesn't know, as long as the alternative is they would be walking home. I used to meet my kids at the boat when the got back to the village, and was often asked by my kids, "Can you give so-and-so a lift?" In this case with no schoolbus, I had no problem. And like cadydid, I would make sure the child was home and te parents knew this and knew it was me, in case there was a problem.
    Here is where there are cultural differences. Often the favour would get returned and my kids would get a lift home, but not if they knew I was expecting to meet the boat. They generally would use their mobile phones to let me know what boat they were on, and if they needed a lift. My kids never got a lift from anyone I didn't know. However, I did give a lift a couple of times to the son of my stalker, but only when I knew he would otherwise be walking. He's a nice kid, my argument was not with him but with his father. That time I did not stick around to talk to them! I just dropped him off at his gate and watched until he was inside. He was 17 at the time and a latchkey kid, so generally his parents weren't home anyway.

    However, I never offer a lift to a child I don't know well and whose parents don't know me.

    Not everybody lives by these rules or even understands tem. if you make yourself known to your daughter's friend's parent, then you will be undoubtedly setting aside any misunderstandings on your parenting rules.

    difficult child 3 often likes to visit friends in the neighbourhood. He always tells me where he's going. If he goes to visit Friend A and they're not home or just going out, he usually tries Friend B next. But he always lets me know, because he knows the rules. If I've gone shopping and he's finished his schoolwork before I get back, he either rings me to let me know or he leaves a note.

    So in summary - I think your rules are good and she needs to stick to them, or at leats discuss changes with you before she just goes and does her own thing. BUT - you may need to relax a little and certainly not get angry at the lifts to school. But yes, the lies need to be dealt with. She should feel confident enough with you to discuss relaxing the rules or finding some alternative, because if the alternative is she lies and is then totally out of your jurisdiction, where do you stand as a parent?

  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have a 12 year old, and if she got into anyone's car without telling me first, she'd be in trouble for hiding it. Why didn't she just ask, "Can Mrs. S. drive me to school?" If this were my child and she told me Mrs. S. was driving her, I would then ask to talk to her to make sure it was ok. But, like one parent said, the deception would bother me...I've always told 12 that trust is everything...that we need to trust one another and we get there by being honest.
    Aside from that, all kids are different. My 12 is a cautious child and wouldn't likely get into the car with a stranger. But if a child may do that, I think it could be best to watch her get on the bus and stress that this is the only way you want her to go to school. Sadly, there are murderers out there...good luck :)
  18. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Each of us has to make reaction choices based on our child, our environment and the way we want our families to interact. I lean more toward using this as a learning experience.

    Has she made poor choices? Of course. Would I be angry and afraid? been there done that. on the other hand, she is socially immature. She is desperate for friends. She has run into an opportunity to be "with" a peer and she seized the chance which even to a typical teen is common.

    In lieu of confronting her, trapping her, embarrassing her etc. I would make the opportunity to take her for a ride or find somewhere it can be quiet and just the two of you...and then tell her the truth. That sets the example of mutual respect and most importantly truthful sharing. Tell her you have discovered that she has been X. Tell her that you have felt disappointed & fearful. Tell her that you love her and that you realize that right now is the time for the two of you to bond more closely. Then ask her to please explain what she has been doing, why she didn't tell etc. and listen VERY closely.

    What she shares with you is HUGELY important. How you react is equally important as it will demonstrate whether she will feel safe sharing other teen issues in the future.

    Fingers crossed that the car ride is with another nice kid with a caring family and perhaps a daughter who is eager to make a friend, too. It's possible. by the way, I would anticipate a punishment at home even if it turns out that the new friend is a gateway for your young teen. I've lived thru two teens who were desperately most precious easy child who didn't "bloom" until she was around 20 and my still very needy 18 year old difficult child gs. It hurts a Mommy heart so the anguish of the teen must be almost too painful to bear. Good luck. DDD
  19. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Thank you everyone for your responses!

    Marguerite-- I had never heard of "the backpack murderer"--but such stories are the perfect example of why it is a good idea to keep others informed of your whereabouts.

    So, my husband and I did not "catch" difficult child at the bus-stop...or "entrap" her in any way...husband simply asked "How did you get to school today?"

    difficult child was immediately annoyed and suspicious... "Why?"

    husband explained that we saw the bus stop at our house and we panicked when she did not get on. We called her name that the bus was here...and when she did not respond we assumed something had happened and we were very worried.

    So difficult child then told us that the mother of another girl that rides her bus had stopped and offered her a ride...but, she swears that this has never, ever happened before. And when I reminded her that this has happened before and we have talked about all of this before--she claims not to remember.

    And so we talked about safety and letting others know where you will be etc etc etc.

    The part that worries me though, is that difficult child had a few different conflicting answers as to why she wouldn't have mentioned any of this to us. She said she figured if we had wanted to know whether she took the bus we would have asked....and if we didn't ask...well, then it was no big deal. Then, she said that she didn't think she had to check with us since she caught a ride with someone she knew.

    Clearly, she wants to make her own decisions and feels that what we don't know won't hurt us...

    How were we supposed to know to ask whether she took the bus to school? It makes me wonder what else I should be asking? Clearly, she will not tell me otherwise.

  20. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I tend to be on the paranoid end of some things, but to be on the safe side, I personally would secretly watch to see who she's getting in the car with. Yes, her telling you the truth is an issue and so is this adjustment of her starting to make some decisions on her own, but her safety from those you aren't comfortable with is a bigger issue. Again, chances are it is all innocent and someone just trying to be helpful, But I'd have to be sure about it if it were me.