Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Check, Please!

Okay, so here's the latest:

The oldest daughter, almost 7 months pregnant, is in jail, and the youngest daughter, almost an "adult," is in California. You do the math. My head hurts!

So why is the 19-year old in "prison?" Because she chose the path of least resistance in dealing with (or not dealing with) fines imposed on her for speeding and other infractions. And she knew better than to ask us to bail her out. We did not even have to say "I told you so." Do the crime, do the time. It's a well known line in our house. She's scheduled to be there for 16 days, working off fines at $50/day. I know this seems harsh, especially since she is pregnant and all, but seriously, isnt' that why we have a legal system? What I fail to understand is why people who are convicted of much worse crimes manage to get off without doing any time?

And somewhere, I must have missed the part in the parenting manual about how to instill the fear of being incarcerated. It seems like this should be intuitive (I did offer up reminders..."you know, if you don't pay those tickets, you'll be arrested and thrown in jail"), but apparently, this fear is not innate. It must be taught. To me, being incarcerated is something to be avoided at all costs. The humility of it all is enough for me, but throw in the loss of freedom, rights and privileges, and negative impact on my future prospects for a job, and I never, ever want to go to jail. The closest I've ever come is taking a tour of the prison where my step-father worked (home to the late Ike Turner and Tex Watson). Count me out!

Today, we went to visit her, on the one day that inmates are allowed to have visitors. We were only allowed a half hour on the telephone separated by glass (but because we were the only visitors, we got to stay as long as we wanted). The whole scene was very surreal. I've never visited a prisoner before, so any visitation was bound to feel surreal, but because she is not a serious threat, she's been shipped off to a private facility that outsources minimum security inmates for the overflowing county jails. This facility is about an hour from our home, in a very small farm town, at the end of a run-down residential street (the kind of street populated with trailers and dogs and small kids in diapers and scattered toys). The building was one of those aluminum sided agriculture barn-type buildings. You would never guess it is a jail, except for the constant unloading of new prisoners through the roll-up garage doors. We walked around to the entrance and entered a very quiet visiting check-in area (it reminded me of a grade school office). We never went through any metal detectors and we weren't strip searched or anything. The sad part was that we couldn't give her a hug. We also couldn't see the inside of where she is living for 16 days, but as she described it, it is a very dismal, animalistic place to be, not unlike being held inside a chicken coop (only chickens would make better cell mates, I imagine). We are anxious to have her back home and hope she learns from this experience. Please pray for her.

And the other one too!

After the emotional roller coaster ride this past week or so, the younger one decided that it was imperative to her mental health that she go back to California. She does not understand how it is that anyone can stand to live in Misery (Missouri, for the undereducated). And even though the odds are stacked against her, she was determined enough to work out a more thoughtful exit strategy than the last failed attempt. So, this time, we worked with her. She bought her own plane ticket, packed her own bags, listened to our pleas to reconsider her decision, enjoyed two parties with her parents (my friend's birthday party Friday night and my husband's friend's wedding Saturday night...we even danced together as a family at the wedding...this NEVER happens!), and then we drove her to the airport Sunday morning. We said a very tearful goodbye. She is going back to a lot of unknowns...where to live, where to work, where to go to college. She has friends who are helping her, but she is truly on her own to make this work. She's a very determined young girl with a lot of potential who feels it is absolutely necessary that she live in California to be happy. We are praying hard for her as well.



At 6:54 AM, June 11, 2008, Blogger Sisiggy said...

Take heart -- I have a brother who went through exactly the same thing (minus the pregnancy, of course) and to this day insists it was the best thing that could have happened to him; a real "kick in the head." Today he's a captain in the police dept. But I do remember how heart-breaking it was to see him in a prison outfit behind bars. (my nickname sisiggy comes from this period. I used to write him letters as Sister Ignatius Toyota from Our Lady of Perpetual Motion. They were so bizarre the censor guy didn't know where to edit them, so he didn't.)

I think this is the hardest part of parenting: watching them take their lumps. Slap on the back for you all for not interfering with the lesson -- for either daughter!

At 7:29 AM, June 11, 2008, OpenID jvjannotti said...

I hope I would have the same strength you have shown. I also hope I will never need it, but I probably will.

My heart breaks for you Gwynne, and for your girls even though I will probably never meet them.

On the upside, the beginning of this post will make a dynamite first sentence of a book!

At 8:00 AM, June 11, 2008, Blogger DarkoV said...

My thoughts, prayers, & primitive acts of wishing you well via smoke, shaking, & gutteral moanings are with you.
For whatever it's worth, thank God that we have kids when we are young, stupid, and hopelessly naive. If we waited until we were mature and stone-dead boring a simple cost analysis of $$$ and nerves would have precluded most of us from deciding parenthood is the career path to follow.
From the moment that wiggly one-tailed imp hooks up to the waiting luscious egg, we are parents until the dirt is piled on to us.

Don't you think it's time ot bring out the bottle of rakija?

At 8:16 AM, June 11, 2008, Blogger Jen said...

Oh, Gwynne - we're praying!

Somehow I didn't realize she was that far along in her pregnancy. You'll be a grandmother in no time! Exciting stuff in the midst of the troubles.

At 9:04 AM, June 11, 2008, Blogger Lynellen said...

As you are a grandmother to a child not yet visible, keep reminding yourself that you are not a failure as a parent! Your children are both making decisions about the adult world and are both dealing with the natural consequences (positive and negative) of their decisions. You are not rescuing them and thus handicapping them. They are demanding to be treated as adults and you are doing so! Remember, you are not to blame for their choices any more than you can take credit for their choices. THEY choose. I'm praying for you.

At 10:41 AM, June 11, 2008, Blogger beth said...

Aw, Gwynne. Lots of virtual hugs and prayers here -- hopefully in time the girls will allow God to use this for good in their lives.

At 6:26 PM, June 11, 2008, Blogger Gwynne said...

Some good and kind words here...thank you all, for your friendship and support!

At 4:49 PM, June 13, 2008, Blogger Foo said...

Good grief, Gwynne. Wotta mess.

The only thing I can figure, regarding the lack of fear of prison, is that pop culture paints it as being almost mandatory to do some time if one is to have any street cred, yo.

I started off in school being tortured by nuns, so my goal was to be the bestest, most righteous boy ever. Kids these days get their cues from… well, I don't know. But it's not nuns.

At 8:57 AM, June 14, 2008, Blogger Gwynne said...

Foo, I think you're right...it seems that teens today almost wear their substance abuse and "prison" time as a badge of honor. I blame the rappers. I'm all for being tortured by nuns instead. ;-)

At 9:03 PM, June 14, 2008, Blogger Janie said...

Wow, Gwynne, I'm also amazed at your strength. I'm blessed that y'all held your line firm - I've not, with my son, and am paying the price for it.

Both of them know you love them, that's for sure.

I'll be praying.


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