Blogging in E minor
Usually just a bunch of silly crap.

This Child Can’t Possibly Be Related to ME!

One week into her high school career, my daughter, Bernadette, has chosen to run for Homecoming Queen.

            Her school, a small, private, all-girls, college-prep institution, hosts a Fall Festival every October. Each class elects its own Fall Festival Favorite from within its ranks. After being briefed on the process in home room on Friday, some of Bernie’s newly acquired friends encouraged her to run because she has school spirit. Later that night, Bernadette informed us of her decision to go for it.

            I am impressed by her confidence and courage. After all, this is an unabashed popularity contest. It is not a tryout for team membership based upon skills or an interview for a position based on merit. Her peers, all high school newbies themselves, select the winner based exclusively on one’s comparative social standing.

            Certainly, as a freshman, or at any time during my teen years, I would have been unwilling to leave myself so entirely vulnerable to the judgment of others. No sum of cash would be sufficient to tempt me to undergo such a thing.

            And I definitely wasn’t a joiner, either. I played no sports, joined no clubs and attended few school functions. Participation in any adult-sanctioned activity was taboo. Sure, like any teen, I had concerns about my popularity; however, this was limited to my acceptance within the anti-establishment community. Any degree of popularity within the ranks of the Popular was undesirable.

            Surely, this child cannot possibly be related to me!

            As a matter of fact, Bernadette was adopted by us seven years ago. I am amazed at how well-adjusted this young lady has become. She takes things in stride, handles frustration well and does not get wrapped up in material things. I call this collective set of attributes “Bernie Zen.”

            One example: A while back, my wife and I hesitantly gave Bernadette permission to spend the night with a girl who lived down the street. We did this despite our concerns about the quality of adult supervision in the home.

            At about 10 pm, I took a stroll around the neighborhood. I discovered Bernadette, the neighbor girl, her younger brother and an older boy wandering the streets. “What are you doing out?” I asked.

            “We’re just taking a walk.”

            “It’s 10 o’clock. Does Janet’s mom know you’re out?”

            “Yes”

            “Who’s that older boy?” I continued.

            “That’s Robert. He’s spending the night with Janet’s brother.”

            “You’re all spending the night at Janet’s? How old is he?”

            “He’s 15.”

             No! This defied my better judgment.

            “I’m sorry honey. You need to come home.”

            Had this happened to me at Bernie’s age, I would have went absolutely ballistic. Instead, she heard me out as I explained that she wasn’t in any trouble, but letting her spend the night in these circumstances was a really BAD idea. Instead, I let her stay up late to watch TV in recompense.

            Out of respect for her privacy, I will simply state that she was adopted out of the foster care system following three years of disrupted placements. She has endured things that no child ever should experience. Nevertheless, despite some very difficult times over the years, she is doing well. Bernadette has friends. Kids like her and adults adore her. Despite some academic challenges, she has earned a place on the honor for about half of her middle school career.

            Bernadette is content with what she has, and – to her parents’ chagrin – not in the least concerned when things are lost or damaged. The most obvious explanation for this is that after experiencing so much loss in her life — separation from her biological family, disrupted friendships, abrupt school transfers and many a left-behind toy — possessions, gadgets and the latest trends seem insignificant in comparison. Bernie will simply roll her eyes when witnessing the tantrums of spoiled children. 

            Moreover, she seems to be developing a strong moral sense despite warnings from the “experts” that she may grow up without a conscience as the result of her early experiences. Bernie looks out for her friends, encourages them to make good choices, and steers clear of the usual teen trappings. She is sensitive to the needs of the disturbed, the unpopular and the disenfranchised. If there are serious concerns about the welfare of any of her peers, she communicates them to an adult.

            In stark contrast, at Bernie’s age, I was a bad influence on those around me and wanted nothing to do with adults. I was unconcerned with the needs of others and defiantly celebrated my poor choices. Surely, this child cannot be related to me!

            Regardless of the outcome of the Freshman Fall Festival Favorite selection process, I will be profoundly proud of my daughter.

            And, quite frankly, an intensive dose of Bernie Zen would do me some good every now and then.

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One Response to “This Child Can’t Possibly Be Related to ME!”

  1. So proud of Bernie! She has grown into a beautiful, smart, mindful daughter that most parents only dream of having! SERIOUSLY! Another story well done!
    Cherry-L


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