The Answer Is No.
Dylan wants to go to the graveyard after school with his new friends.
“Gee Dylan,” I said, “I think I would need some more details before I agree to something like that. Where is this graveyard? I don’t know of any graveyards near your school, and I don’t like the idea of you walking on busy, six-lane roads with no sidewalks. How are you going to get there?”
He texted for a day or two, then answered me.
“Well it turns out,” he said, “that we’re all just going to ride the bus home with Mabel. And she lives right next to the graveyard, so we’ll just walk there from the bus stop.”
“That doesn’t sound like a good idea,” I told him. “I don’t know her, and I don’t know her parents and I don’t even know if they’ll be home when you get there.”
“It doesn’t matter because we’re not going in her house; we’re just going to the graveyard,” Dylan told me.
“I don’t even know where she lives, Dylan,” I said. “It does not sound like a good idea.”
“BUT…” Dylan said, and launched into a raft of reasons why it certainly would be a good idea.
“The answer is no,” I said with finality.
The finality, unfortunately, was followed by three hours of excuses, whining, complaints and accusations. Sometime in the midst, Bill came home and backed up my original “no” with his own, lower-voiced and more wordy “no.”
Then Dylan really went off – talking about how I have to be right all the time, and how I don’t trust him to make his own decisions, and how I am the only parent who won’t let her child go to the graveyard after school tomorrow.
I don’t know Dylan’s new group of friends. One of them has purple hair, but that’s all I know. Another one was Dylan’s first girlfriend (a two-week relationship) who played a giraffe in their second-grade play. It’s possible that the other parents are working and aren’t home after school, so the other kids have no restrictions.
After talking with Bill, we decided it would be a good idea to lay out some guidelines as to what kinds of things would always be a “no.” We called in the teenager.
“If there is no adult supervision,” I said, “the answer will always be no.”
He stormed away, without hearing the rest of the “always no” options. I yelled to him.
“Dylan, would you prefer that Daddy and I get a divorce so that I have to work all the time and no one is here after school, so that you can do whatever you want?”
“No,” Dylan called back. “I don’t want you to get a divorce. I would just like it if you were gone.” He meant me, the MOM, the doer-of-all-evil, the nay-sayer, the disciplinarian.
“I would just like it if you were gone.”
They say not to take it personally when a teenager lashes out.