The other day when we were heading downtown to pick up my daughter after her visit with grandma, I found myself really stressing over her being down there alone. She’s almost 16 and when I look back on when I was 16 I was so very different. I was going everywhere by myself and rarely home. I had a job, money, and lots of places to hang out. So why was I so stressing over her walking 2 blocks from the train to the library?
Oh yeah, her poor decision making skills and lack of cause and effect thinking. My wife and I have joked about how my daughter would sell us out for a bar of chocolate (ok, we were only half joking) but it’s really an indicator of how she thinks. She lives in the moment, rarely considering how things will affect her even 10 minutes later. Combine that with her need for attention and we have a potentially disastrous situation when she’s out walking around. There have been more than one occasion where guys have hit on her while she was out, and no matter how many times we tell her she needs to get away from them rather than respond, she can’t help but engage in conversation with them. And it’s not just conversation either – there have been a couple of times where they have managed to get close enough to actually touch her.
As a father, that’s both scary and infuriating.
Who are these men and why are they touching my daughter?
But although she says she wishes they would leave her alone, she won’t do anything really to stop it. We tell her to ignore them, duck into the closest store and tell the person working there that she is being bothered by some guy. But what she does instead is engage them in conversation (even if it’s just one word answers, that’s enough for some guys to think it’s all good) and continue walking down the street as if nothing is wrong.
So yeah, I was really worried and stressed about her wandering around in downtown San Francisco even though it was in such a public place. I don’t even like being down there by myself in certain areas, and I’m not a little guy, so the thought of her weaving her way between homeless drunks and drug addicts that have made their way down from the tenderloin really freaked me out.
I wish there was some way to get her to understand the dangers. She’s tall, she’s thin, she’s beautiful, and she is incredibly naive. Even her case manager fears for her safety and well being due to her naivety around social issues such as boys. She calls her an “unwanted pregnancy waiting to happen”. Not exactly what I want to hear – especially having been a teenage boy myself. Yet, no matter how many times we try to impress on her the dangers out there, she seems to remain oblivious. The ‘instant attention’ is far too alluring and outweighs any ‘possible problems’ that might arise from it.
And people wonder why we keep such close tabs on her…. “back off a bit and she’ll blossom”… yeah, right. People have no idea….