My 14-year-old daughter was half way to Wisconsin Dells with girlfriends for a birthday party when my gut tightened.
The party was a sleepover. She’d be gone for a couple of nights.
Maybe it was the distance that was the source of the fear. Maybe it was because it would be a couple of nights. Maybe it was her age. Maybe it was how beautiful she is. Maybe it was her innocence. Maybe it was her growing independence, her getting out into the world. There would be more days away from home. There would be longer distances.
Had I prepared her for an unwelcomed glance or touch? Was she prepared if that would happen? How would she respond?
I could almost hear her nervous giggle.
What if it became an unwanted advance?
I put myself in her place. My body froze. That’s what I knew how to do.
It helped when I thought of how differently Jody and I had raised our daughter from how I was raised. Even from a very young age, she was taught that her body was hers. She was taught that she had every right to expect privacy. She was taught that it was okay to lock the bathroom door. She was taught that it was okay to lock her bedroom door. She was taught that she had every right to expect respect. She was taught to say, “No”.
This calmed me.
If my daughter wasn’t respected she would recognize that. She knew what respect was.
That’s what Jody and I had given her. Her ability to recognize a danger signal by showing her acceptable behavior in our home.
This calmed me.
I realized that Jody and I had taught her a lot of things. We taught her love, and therefore she will expect love. We taught her kindness, and empathy, and to be herself. We taught her to dream. We taught her to travel domestically and internationally and to do so safely.
We’ve also taught her that it is okay to be alone, to feel pain, and sadness.
Most importantly we’ve taught her she can always come home. We are home.
She will travel far.