Sometimes It Takes A Village To Raise A Child

VillageHer name is Kasandra, she’s 14 years old and she’s my great niece. She came to live with John and I in January 2008 – moving here from Victoria, BC. Without getting into the nitty gritty of family drama, Emma, her mother (my niece) moved the family to Victoria from Toronto three years ago. Kassy never really adapted to her new surroundings and like most kids when they get “lost”, they attract trouble. She was beginning to hang with kids who were heading down the path of least resistance – who run the show in their household, doing as they please and being rewarded for bad behaviour.

It wasn’t an easy decision for her mother but she knew changes had to made before it was too late. So she decided to send her to live with the wicked witch of the east….me! I’ve always had a close relationship with Kassy as I spent a lot of time with her when I lived in Toronto and kept in contact with her after I moved to Alberta.

Here I am, going from being childless to now raising a teenager. My self-absorbed world crashed and burned as soon as she walked through the door. I’ll admit it, I very much liked my childless world – just me, John, our dog, Mika, but was looking forward to having her breathe new life into our home. I soon realized that I now have to be conscious of what I say and do as she is at a very impressionable stage in her life.

Most adults have kids around them whether it be their own, a relative or their friends’ kids. Whether we want the responsibility or not, we are all mentors one way or another to the children around us and how we conduct ourselves impacts them in some way.

I’m sure by now you heard of “Facebook” – I’m having a blast reconnecting with people I went to school with. Loving the nostalgic feeling of reminiscing about the simpler times and rekindling some lost friendships. There are a few in my circle of online friends that I shake my head at as I’m seeing pictures posted of their teenage children smoking dope with what they might think are their cool adult relatives and friends. One boy was so inebriated that his own mother was holding him up and laughing as the photo is being taken. A teenager left a comment under the photo saying, “I can’t believe a mother would want her kid get drunk” and she replied “you’re just jealous because you’re not allowed to do it”. This kid has more sense then my “online acquaintance”. Its bad enough that teenagers have to deal with peer pressure from the kids around them but to have adults entice and encourage drugs and alcohol is beyond my comprehension.
Kassy’s friends think I’m “cool”. I guess I’m relieved they don’t think of me as an old fuddy duddy. When the time is right, I can have a great laugh with her and her friends but I never cross the line. They will always know that I’m running the show and I think they respect me for that. I see too many adults wearing the “”cool” title a little too proudly, as this maybe gives them an opportunity to relive their youth in some way. As for me, when I’m feeling nostalgic and want to relive my youth, I’ll turn on my 80’s music and dance around my house or meet up with my high school homies and talk about the good old days.
Do you think it’s acceptable to be friends with your kids?