You have to trust your children to do the right thing. And sometimes even trust other people's children to do the right thing.
On Monday the girls and I made a quick post blizzard trip to the local Wal-Mart. While we were there TeenStar picked up a new face soap. TeenStar likes to experiment with make-up, lotions, soaps, shampoos, etc. It's just the way she rolls. Before we decided to purchase the new soap TeenStar did do a quick search for reviews. And the reviews were good. I don't know how we made purchases before the Internet.
On Tuesday night TeenStar used her new soap for the first time.
On Wednesday morning TeenStar woke up with some red splotchy hivey things on her face. Initially it didn't look too bad to me. Full disclosure - I didn't look too closely in the craziness of the morning and she didn't seem too concerned.
So I was a little caught off guard when TeenStar hung back as Golden Boy and SuperHubby walked out the door. Her eyes filled with tears and she begged me not to make her go to school because her face looked so horrible. I took a closer look and admittedly her face was looking little rough. TeenStar insisted the other kids would make fun of her and I half-heartedly tried to convince her that the kids wouldn't make fun of her, but we both knew that there was probably more truth to what she was saying than to what I was saying. Kids can be cruel.
In general we are not a school is a choice type of family. There are no mental health days at our house and you better be REALLY sick if you are going to miss a day of school. Our children are well aware of our "sick policy" and never ask to stay home (I also think that they like school which helps). So tears and a TeenStar begging to stay home definitely had my mommy sense pinging.
I stuck my head out the front door and yelled to SuperHubby that TeenStar wasn't going (he gave me the WTF look, but I figured I would deal with that later). Through out my work day TeenStar would text me pictures of her face to keep me updated. And though I was encouraging to her both SuperHubby and I were growing concerned because her face was looking worse instead of better. To her credit she was following all our instructions: no make-up, aloe for the burning sensation, and benadryl to counter an allergic reaction, but there wasn't any improvement.
(At this point I would love to include a picture of TeenStar in all her hivey splotchy glory, but I won't. She would hate that. And would be horrified. And frankly this whole experience has already been horrifying enough for her and I don't want to add to it. So you will just have to use your imagination.)
By 8:00 that night TeenStar's face was not looking good and I was mentally adjusting the next work day to accommodate a visit to the Dr's office. TeenStar was beside herself and already pitching to stay home again. I would not commit to her staying home and tried to convince her (when I was not so convinced myself) that a lot of things could change while she was sleeping.
The next morning TeenStar got up at her usual time for school and as is the norm she didn't surface from her bedroom until a good 30 minutes after she had woken up. She came down stairs dressed and ready to go. And her face still didn't look great. Better, but not great. Unfortunately.
At one point TeenStar left the kitchen and SuperHubby questioned whether she was going to school. I told him I thought so. I wasn't going to question her though. I was going to let her steer this ship. I wouldn't offer the stay at home option, but would not tell her no if that is what she thought she needed to do.
She went to school without any discussion about it.
And I held my breath the whole day waiting to hear what happened. My fingers, toes, and everything else crossed that the children wouldn't be too cruel.
The first thing I noticed when I got home that day was that her face looked soooooo much better. Thank God. The second thing I noticed was that she seemed to be in a good mood.
"How did it go today? Did anyone say anything about your face?"
"Did they make fun of you?"
"No. Not at all. They just asked me about it."
"You mean they just had questions about how it happened and things like that."
"Yeah. I have a new nickname."
"A new nickname?"
"Oh that's not so bad."
(And really not that imaginative. Grateful that my TeenStar was not subjected to a mean spirited nickname, but a little appalled at the lack of creativity in the 7th grade.)
And that was that.
She went to school and no one made fun of her.
She did the right thing and they did the right thing.
My parenting tip is two-fold.
Sometimes you have to trust that no matter how self-centered your 13 year old appears to be and no matter how questionable her judgement can be at times that she will make the right choice when the opportunity presents itself. Especially when that right choice is something that you have hammered into her head for the past 8 years.
Sometimes you have to trust that no matter how much evidence suggests that 13 year olds are generally crappy people ready to capitalize on the first sign of weakness in a peer there are times when they will do the right thing and act like compassionate human beings.
You have to trust.