It's been said that simply having children doesn't make one a mother. Sometimes the mothering is done in the presence of one's own children but not necessarily towards them.
When Mr. Gaelic and I decided to allow Deirdre to host a New Year's Eve party at our house while we were at another party, we had our reservations. But we wanted to give her the opportunity to show us how much she's matured over the last year. Or to fail miserably and learn from her mistakes.
After the talent show at the other party, Mr. G and I headed back to our house. Suspicion was high when we heard Maeve in the back seat speaking into her cupped hand holding her cell phone, telling whomever was on the other end that we were on the way home and were presently at the corner of Such-and-such Street and This-and-that Road.
Instead of changing into casual clothes and walking down the street to watch the fireworks, we camped out in our bedroom and watched to see if anyone was going outside for anything illicit. Sure enough, there were four boys in the garage, smoking cigarettes and climbing on Mr. G's motorcycle. At 6'5", when he moseyed outside and told the boy to get off the bike, the cigarettes went out faster than the boy got his leg over the seat. The high school kids don't call Mr. G the Terminator for nothing.
While Mr. G was doing the tough dad thing, I was on my knees in front of another boy who had made the mistake of going to another teen party which had been busted up earlier. He somehow made his way to Deirdre's party. Already intoxicated. Three-sheets-to-the-wind intoxicated. Deirdre sat beside him while I asked him if he knew who I was. "You're Didi's mom." I asked if he knew where he was. "At Didi's."
"Can you drink something?"
"Take these two Tylenol and drink this water."
When another boy's mother showed up to drive her son and the intoxicated boy home, it was imperative that she knew what had happened. Although my thoughts were the same as hers, I didn't voice them. "You really messed up," wasn't something that he needed to hear right then. With a hangover, he'd know it. And he can always be told later, when he might actually remember hearing it.
Dierdre did an okay job for hosting her first party. She could have done better. She also could have done much worse. Mr. G and I debriefed her after everyone had left and told her as much. She acknowledged that and apologized profusely for not being able to stop the intoxicated boy from showing up and for not being able to stop the boys in the garage from smoking.
The lesson she learned was that, even though we don't approve of certain activities by teenagers, we're not going to berate them or throw them out when they are in need of a caring adult. Her thanks to us for helping with the intoxicated boy were sincere.
My lesson came when she told me during the debriefing that the intoxicated boy was the same one who was in the hospital two weeks prior from attempted suicide. His parents had abandoned him and both blamed him for their problems. My lesson was that I must parent any child in need. Not just the ones that I birthed.
6 days ago