Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why I Let My 15-Year Old Out Until 3 A.M.

So Saturday night I woke up at 3 am and realized my girls, aged 15 and 17, were not home.

Carlos - "Are they supposed to be?"

"Carla, yes. Sean is spending the night at Michelle's."

"Think she's at Michelle's yet?"

"Quien sabe."

First, I said a Hail Mary and then a prayer to the angels, to my dude, Michael especially. "Archangel, protector, please make sure my girls and their friends are safe."

Behind my closed eyes, I saw two large white wings folding around the girl group. The picture of the girls was peaceful, tranquil. I knew they were fine.

I got out of bed and made a phone call to Sean, age 15. They were just leaving the Mint, a downtown dance club. Yes, a bar. They were all going, Carla included, to Michelle's to spend the night.

"Stay in a group!" I said.
"Yes," Sean said. "Mom, (exasperated) we're fine!"

I know. If you are a parent in the United State of American reading this you are horrified, scandalized and doubt my parenting skills. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

In San Miguel de Allende, teens go to bars. There is probably some law on the books saying they can't, but that law is waived every weekend if the teen at the door is good-looking and well-dressed enough. My kids, ages 15 and 17 love to go to upscale clubs with major sound systems.  It's about being with their friends and dancing, they insist. Plus, I know they don't drink, and the kids in their crowd who drink do so with restraint. In other words, getting falling down drunk is exceedingly uncool.  "Mom," says Sean. "You can always tell the Americans in the bars. First, the girls wear clothes that show their bras!  Second, by 11 o'clock. they can't even stand up!" She curled her lip in disdain.

In 2012, we gave permission. You might have to be on overtime with us for awhile, I advised my angels. That would cut down on the sneaking out and allow us to set curfews. Which has worked pretty well, except for one staying-out-all-night incident, so far.

The girls came in on Sunday morning around 10 a.m., glowing. They'd had a good night. Now, with permission, they don't hide. They tell us things! Alan! Max! Abbie! Their friends doing the craziest things! Dancing and taking photos! An image came into my head. It was very clear. It was me, standing in front of a host of angels. (no, wait, that sounds biblical). A crowd of foot-tapping angels. They were looking up, as if waiting for Jimi Hendrix to appear on stage. But I appeared in front of them instead. I bowed, arms out. Thank you, homies. Thank you, gracias, thank you.


  1. My husband and I have had a lot of conversations about this during the last 6 years. He entered my daughter's life when she was 14 and already "going out" with friends. I was one of those who had had a strict curfew and I just went out the window, down the tree and away. My mom had no idea what I was doing out there in the world at all. I was back in the house before time to get ready for school and she knew nothing. I wanted my daughter not to be afraid to tell me anything, so that when she was about to do one of the more dangerous things I had done, I would be in a position to hopefully reason with her, because well, even the smartest people don't always reason everything out right and the voice of mom can actually be a magic save. Now enter my husband into the house, with the idea that a seƱorita decente is home by 10 or at the latest 11 pm - unless closely accompanied by a reliable brother, male cousin, father, uncle etc. Well, aside from my daughter having none of the above, in Houston what is happening is not the bailes from his experience where all generations are out having fun at night together (even the abuela shows up sometimes!), and the occasional bailes are the only thing going on. Here there are many choices every weekend but it's all divided generationally everywhere you go, and for Mom to accompany her was impossibly embarrassing. Most fundamentally, what she wanted to do was see live music, and the shows are barely getting started at the hour he wanted her home! This is a person who started "singing" along (she couldn't say words, but she was in perfect pitch and rhythm) with any music she heard, before she was old enough to sit up. She is today a music major in college, as I suspected would happen. It was really hard for me to trust my gut feeling that my approach with her was correct, especially in the face of a totally opposite opinion from my husband, who is generally right about things (and I have to live with...) But to this day I am glad I stayed the course. I know she is as stubborn as I was and would not have not gone out... it just would have been behind my back.

  2. I love it- thanks for the post- we are inching up to that scene and all I know is that i don't know. I was climbing out windows too so I know that for my reasonable girls, too many restrictions is going to turn perfectly honest girls into sneaky ones. I love Sean's comment about Americans- pretty insightful, I must say....I need a dose of my Mexican moms for a check in- so much wisdom to be had as I venture into this part of parenting....

  3. At our house in Chuburna Puerto in Yucatan, when there are fiestas in the village, young teenagers stay out till all hours and I often see them on the beach at first light, walking barefoot, carrying their dancing shoes. It makes me think of my own childhood / teenage years, when the whole world seemed safe and was mine to explore.

    I'm nearing the end of your lovely book and I don't want to be on the last pages. I dropped by her to say hello, and congratulations on this beautiful love story, and I miss Mexico, terribly. And I also wanted to be certain you are still married to your fine Carlos.

  4. Lynette, Thank you for your lovely note! Carlos is in the kitchen presently making papas con chile rojo. Sean is at the barn riding her horse.
    Love the image of your carefree teen years. Finally decided I could participate in that too. Thanks for the confirmation! You are presently not in Mexico...where?

  5. I'm reading and loving you blog, Lynette...I think I need to follow!!

  6. How awesome, Susan. Being Mexican myself, this teenage bar rampage scandalizes me much less, but I thought it was a thing of the past, something that wasn't done anymore. Glad to hear it's still alive and well :) New follower here, found you via Faydra Deon on Twitter, and will definitely be coming back for more. Ah, Mexico lindo... Just looking at that header pic makes me homesick :)