But it has its share of challenges too. Raka now drives on her own and is trying to find her own social life. As a dad, I have to find the right point of balance, discipline, and boundaries.
One such challenge happened last week. We had another uneventful day at home and Raka was getting restless. I completely understand that for me an uneventful day may be a welcome change but for a teenager it may be downright boring. So at 5:30 in the evening Raka told me that she was going out with two girls Amy and Amy. The girls were taking Raka out for a surprise. I did not like the surprise part at all. I raised my eyebrows and promptly enquired where she was going. Raka was the smarter of the two of us as she responded back by saying, “Dad, if I knew where they were taking me it would not be a surprise.”
I consented to allow her to go on the strange outing as long as she informed me where she was once she got to the surprise spot. She agreed and then left promptly.
Within minutes of her leaving I got a call from her. She and her friends were planning to play fugitive in their neighborhood. Fugitive is the modern day version of hide n seek, where the seeker drives in a car to imitate the police. That whole thing with cars, and then it being played at night did not seem to be a “fun game” for me. It even sounded kind of dangerous.
I asked Raka what time she would be back. Her response was 11:00. I was startled. “11:00? That is not acceptable.”
Raka then pleaded her case that included amazing logic like, “I am a senior now. “ “It is summer and everyone plays outside at night.” All these were not touching me or making me change my decision. Finally I stated that I needed to meet the girls she was out with for me to consider any time beyond 10:00.
That night I nervously sat near the window as Raka was out. I was proud that as a dad I put all my effort into keeping the kids safe, but I wanted her home.
Raka came home a few minutes after the designated return time. She complained that that game of fugitive was too short. I nodded as I knew that the short game was not an accident. I asked myself,
“Was this a coincidence? Was the chicken dinner and the movie a ploy to keep the kids home for a large part of the evening? Did I do right by delaying their fugitive game?” I thought and then told myself that I was happy that they were safe, I was happy that they had a good dinner, and I was happy they had enjoyed the evening.
No, I seriously had no regrets.