Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Newfound Independence

Annika has started biking to school - no small feat, since her school is a fair distance away. But there are bike lanes almost the whole way there, and few streets to cross. Letting her take this new step was not easy... we had a few test runs, and the first morning, I went halfway with her, through the worst of the traffic. But she is careful and responsible, and seems to have grown a couple of years in maturity with her newfound independence. 

However, it's not all fun and games... 

Annika started out riding with M, a friend from school that also likes horses. The two of them spent the first independence week riding early, stopping by the stables to pet their favorite horses. But then L started riding, too. First problem, M and L don't like each other. Second problem, you can't ride three abreast. And L, being somewhat manipulative, both literally and figuratively, managed to position herself by Annika, cutting her off if she tried to ride up with M for a while. So... take turns, thought Annika.

Week 2, L called to ride with Annika, but she had already made plans with M, and told her. L arrives at school with her mother, in tears, and proceeds to cry all morning. Huge guilt. Much appeasing on Annika's part. But finally everyone seemed happy, and the three of them left school together, biking by the stables on the way home.

Week 3, Sunday night. Late. SMS from L asking to ride with Annika on Monday morning. Annika already has plans with M, and has promised that they will just be the two of them. Annika stressed. If she tells L that she already has plans with M, she risks a repeat of week 2. If she tells L to come, then she risks the wrath of M. I (not so wisely, it turns out) suggest that Annika not answer, and then at school on Monday, invite L to ride on Tuesday. 

Monday morning. Hectic. Late. Lunch required. At breakfast table. Phone rings, twice, L both times. I tell Annika to either answer it or put it on silent, so on silent it goes. Annika dashes out, late to meet M, but on her way. 9am. My phone rings. Annika is crying so hard she can't speak. "L's mom is really, really angry at me, and I don't know why" I finally manage to pry from her. Noon. Speak to L's mom, who accuses Annika of arranging to ride with L, then not turning up, and hanging up on her several times. Turns out she took her other two children to school, leaving L at home, waiting for Annika because she had "promised she would come" (a statement I know to be untrue). So she lays into Annika - "Don't know how you could do something like this... Thought better of you..." in front of everybody. Makes a big deal of how her daughter will be late because of Annika (she wasn't - arrived on her bike with T in plenty of time). Had a long talk with L's mom, though I think neither of us is pleased with the outcome.

End result - Annika is afraid of L's mom (after knowing her for 5 years). Biking has lost some of its glamour, moving from a step towards independence to one more power game in the social network. L and Annika are friends again, after much sucking up on Annika's part. And on it goes... Yesterday, L invited Annika to ride, then invited several more (but not M), insisting that Annika would ride across town, pick up E, then back to L's house, then to school (I put my foot down on that one.)

So what are our lessons?
  • It is always better to face your problems head on, rather than postponing them, hoping they will go away.
  • You shouldn't screen your calls (though the important corollary is that just because you have a mobile phone doesn't mean you are perpetually available, at all times, in all circumstances.)
  • You should never yell at someone else's kid.

No comments: