Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sink or Swim

I'm extremely troubled by the knowledge that she's failing one of her elective classes.  I'd be less troubled if this was a case of her simply being unable to do the work or pass the tests.  She's failing because she hasn't turned in her assignments.

As I said earlier, I'm just not going to get into a nasty control battle with my kid over her school work.  Her teacher asked for our involvement, so we told Danielle she needed to get caught up or face consequences, and that's pretty much the extent of what we can do.  I'm not going to force her to sit at the kitchen table and battle for hours (like we used to do when we home schooled) over an assignment.

She's 16 years old, and it's time she learn to solve her own problems.  It's time that she learn she has to sink or swim on her own merits.

This is a sad and scary place to be, because I am not convinced that Danielle will swim.  Yes, she's certainly at a disadvantage in the race called life, but I firmly believe she can swim.  She might not be the fastest, the most graceful, or the most skilled, but I do believe that if she put the effort in it, she would be able to do laps in the pool called life.

My fear is that she simply won't try.  She's learned that if she plays victim long enough, someone will swoop in and rescue her.  If she looks like she's drowning, and cries for help loud enough, it seems there is always someone who will feel sorry for her and try to help.

She's done this to teachers, therapists, friends, and extended family members.  One by one, people have realized what she's up to, and their willingness to help has decreased or disappeared.  Folks have learned that a great deal of what Danielle does is manipulation, and they are tired of it.

So I wonder what is going to happen when she finally has to swim in the pool of life and she learns there isn't a lifeguard.

What makes this all the more difficult is that I feel like we are on a collision course with an unpleasant future.  I can't fix my kid.  I can't force her learn, to grow, or to acquire the skills she will need to have as an independent young adult.  I can't make her stop abusing us.  I can't make her follow the rules, which she so conveniently "forgets on purpose," which makes her living here untenable past her 18th birthday.

I am acutely aware of what this situation means.  Danielle isn't safe to live here, but she won't be ready to live on her own, either.  The idea of casting my kid out on the street sounds like a terrible, uncaring thing to do, but we also recognize that we can't continue to live this way either.  We aren't rich enough to set her up in a subsidized apartment, and she won't have the academic skills or achievement to go away to college.

Danielle's 16th birthday is just a few days away, and she needs to start swimming.

But I am afraid she is going to sink.

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