The niece experiment

31 10 2008

If you know me or follow this blog, you know that a couple months ago we asked our 17 year old niece to move in with us for the school year.  She moved in two days before our baby daughter was born in mid august.  Well, it has been an interesting experiment to say the least and very much a learning experience.  Well, I am sad to report that the experiment is over.  One week ago, she moved out.  Her mother rented a new place in another town and together they made the decision for our niece to move in with her.  She had to switch schools mid-semester which is something she is all too use-to.

My wife and I have a myriad of emotions about the situation.  We have never wavered from our priority of making this a successful school year for our niece.  We put that above everything in our lives and I am happy to say that we have no regrets and that we never changed our stance on that at all.

So, because of that, we are sad that she moved out.  We really did sacrifice a lot to make it work.  And, when we initially invited her to come live with us, we asked her to commit to staying for the year (which she did).  So, we were also hurt by the decision.  It is hard for us to understand how our efforts and sacrifice can be so easily traded in.  It is hard for us to understand how anyone can see it as a positive thing for her to once again switch schools mid-semester, especially considering how good a start she was off to.

But, of course, it is not at all surprising.  The very fact that we pushed for such a commitment from her demonstrates that we anticipated this day would come.

Along with sadness and hurt that we are feeling, comes relief and even some excitement.  There were times in these last two months that we actually looked forward to this day.  We never wavered in our efforts to maintain a stable environment for her, but at the same time, it was an incredible stress on our family.  She brought a drama to our household that we were not used to, and as much as we expected the drama to come, there was really no preparing for it.  For those of you wondering, adding a teenager and a newborn to a household at the same time is pretty much an insane thing to do.

Honestly, I think the biggest sacrifice that we made is one that most people involved will never even know.  We gave up the first two month’s of our daughter’s life.  In other words, instead of being able to enjoy and savor her and welcome her into our family like we did her two older brothers, we had to do it in the midst of other changes and tumult.  My wife particularly has felt this loss the most.  So, now, we have a tingle of excitement in our lives for how we can make up time with our daughter.  We really do have some catching up to do.  I am not writing this because I am angry or because I am upset, I am writing this to get it out.  This is therapeutic for me.

So, what did we learn from this experience?  Wow, it’s a long list.

We definitely learned more about the mystery that is the teenager.  Even though once upon a time, we ourselves were teenagers, there is a world of difference between being a teenage and being responsible for one.

We learned more about how to communicate and motivate a high schooler.  We learned how to communicate with parents of teenagers.  (Or should I say we learned how not to communicate with a high schooler and parents of said high schooler?)  We learned that actions speak louder than words.  We also learned that even actions can very easily twisted and misconstrued.

We learned that teenage boys like teenage girls.  We learned that teenage girls like it when teenage boys like them.  We learned that myspace and the internet have completely changed the high school social scene.  We learned that teenage sexuality at its core has changed quite dramatically since our high school days.

We learned quite a bit about medical insurance and what it means to have someone in your family that may not have it.  We learned how to distinguish between real medical emergencies and those that need to be slept on and checked in the morning.

We learned that you can’t hide good food.  🙂

We learned that it is better to give than to receive.  We learned that despite your best efforts, things don’t always turn out the way you hope.  We learned that my wife and I are a good team (actually we already knew that but it was nice to have it reconfirmed).  We learned that we can set a goal and prioritize it and not falter no matter what is thrown our way.

We learned a lot of things the hard way and in some cases we learned that we already have good instincts.  We learned that we still have an awful lot to learn.

So, would we do it all over again?  I can honestly say that I don’t know.  Knowing everything that we know now, I am still not sure we have enough information to make that call.  I still think we helped her get out of a bad situation.  There is no telling what we may have saved her from.  Further, there is no doubt in my mind that we got her off to a good start for the school year.  We hope and pray that this will carry over to her new school and her new home life.

All I know for sure is that we gave it all we had.  We have no regrets.  We layed it all out and didn’t hold anything back.  Only time will tell whether this will have any permanant results.

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4 responses

31 10 2008
Jodi

And I learned how strong and loving my husband is. I already knew you were these things, but I learned it on a whole new level! Thank you for being you and for loving me and for putting up with the baggage that my family comes with!

31 10 2008
kylestickens

And I learned that you two need a date night and some time alone! Mushy comment Jodi!

Jay is this your longest post?

1 11 2008
Shawn W

Anyone responsible for a teenage girl should be awarded a purple heart IMHO.

If you’ve done nothing else you’ve shown her that there is another, better way to live. That will have an impact on her for the rest of her life, even if you don’t see it for awhile.

Enjoy your family now, knowing you did a good thing and did your best.

1 11 2008
BuffaloNickel

thanks for those kind words.

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