Sunday, October 5, 2008

Last of Breathing Treatment, Steffany's escapades

This morning marked the end of Joshua's taking Gentamicin.
Despite the worries about the possible side-effects, Joshua seems to have come through this round unscathed. Thank God!! He also seems to be about over all signs of the upper respiratory bug. I too am feeling much better. Although, I am still a little tired. But little rest for this weary mom.

Steffany continues her shenanigans.

The latest - Steffany gave up on her dad signing a permission slip that would allow her to leave her school campus to go to lunch. James did not want to sign it and allow that yet, because Steffany has not proven to us that she is trust-worthy enough (especially over the summer).

She had begged and begged day after day... then just stopped and never mentioned it again. That should have been a sign to us, but busy with many other worries, I guess we were just glad she stopped bugging us about it. I guess we assumed she was maturing. But the real reason she stopped was that she had forged his signature on the form and turned it in. We had no idea she was leaving campus with her friends at lunch until Friday.

Around noon on Friday, I logged onto our cell phone company's website to check our minutes and bill from this past month. I wanted to make sure we had not gone over our alotted minutes.

Then, I looked at how many text messages Steffany had already this month - she had over 4,000 last month (although I have no idea how she does it - especially considering she goes to school so much during the day when the phone SHOULD be turned off altogether). That's when I noticed she was texting DURING school hours - that very day she had texted almost all day long. So, I planned to confront her on it when she got home, and take her phone from her for a while.

I did in fact take the phone from her. Later that evening, I thought I should scan through and see what was so important to her that she had to text during school that day. I found messages indicating she had invited a boy who is nearly 20-years-old to come pick her up from school and take her to lunch. She claimed to him she had off campus priveleges, so it would be okay. Then, there were messages where this boy described what he was driving, so she could spot him in the parking lot - a big "rape van" - certainly not the words I would have chosen if I were a man coming onto a high school campus to pick up a 16-year-old girl. Then, there were more messages about a "nasty looking hickey" on her neck that she tried to cover up. And she asked if they were "moving too quickly." My answer is a very loud and clear "YES!"

So, I had even bigger worries now than just Steffany texting at school. Of course, all this happened while James was still in Odessa, worrying about his father who was recently given news that his cancer was terminal and he likely only had months to live. James started back home Saturday, and Steffany brainstormed to find ways to smooth things over with us as he returned.

I woke Saturday, to Steffany coming in my room with a plate of pancakes and a cup of coffee she had prepared for me (to butter me up, of course).

She did a pretty good job on the pancakes - they were yummy. The coffee was okay, but a little weak (still a good try on Steff's part).
As I worked to clean house Saturday morning, I told Steffany we needed to vacuum and shampoo the carpet downstairs,

and she did help with that without complaint (though she left the nasty, dirty water in the shampooer - and I had to come along and find it and dump it out and clean the shampooer).

Then, she asked (since one of my arguments for her being too young to date this nearly 20 year old is that she didn't even have the will-power to get and keep a job) to go apply for a job. I finally gave in and allowed her permission to take the old van and drive around to a few places to pick up and fill out applications.

That was just before 1PM.

By about 3pm, I started to worry, because Steffany did not have a cell phone and she had not returned. She said she was only going to about 3 places - none of them more than 2 or 3 miles from the house. By my figures, she should have easily been home by 2:30 or 3pm. But 4 o'clock, James calls and is over halfway home and still no word from Steffany. He would NOT be happy that I let her go out and drive the van around by herself after she had forged his name and gone off with this guy just a day before. So, I prayed that God would bring Steffany quickly home and that she had only done what she claimed she was going to do. Please don't let Steffany screw this up, too. I so want to trust her.

5 o'clock, and still no Steffany. I had to ask my sister to help me find her and she was out driving around looking for the van. I really started praying at this time that Steffany hadn't had a wreck or something. I could just picture her on the side of the highway somewhere, an ambulance loading her up and taking her to the hospital. I wished I hadn't given in and let her go. I should have told her to wait until after her dad got home and let him decide if and when she could go. And James calls to tell me he is about an hour from home. Oh no. When I tell him what has happened, he is FURIOUS - not just at Steff but at me for letting her go like that.

My sister drives all over - to the places Steffany mentioned applying for a job, to Steffany's friends' houses, even to the apartment complex where this guy lives - but no sign of her or our van. My heart sinks and my mind races to where she could be. Oh, why did I let her go. How stupid could I be. Steffany really must be mentally troubled if she could take my trust and do this. Why didn't I get her in to a counselor or something. What could she be doing for all these hours. She isn't anywhere to be found!

James will be home soon and now I have lost his daughter. He will really hate me now. And her grandparents in Odessa will hate me too. I sit on our front porch and nearly bawl. At the same time, I hope more than anything that she will just pull up in the van and make all my fears go away.

But 6 o'clock arrives, my sister checks the last places she can think of to look, James gets home..... no Steffany. No call, no sign of her... nothing.

I start to think back to the day - many years ago - when my little sister was about 2 or 3 years old. She was playing in the back yard one minute. The next, she was nowhere to be found. We searched the property, the neighborhood - all over - and no sign of her. She was so little. And there had been a story on the news about someone who had tried to pick up a little girl like her a couple of days before - but had been spotted and so he drove off. What if he had gotten my sister and we would never see her alive again.

The feeling in the pit of my stomache back then was there again now. Back then, that disappearance worked out okay. Turns out my sister had walked down the alley all the way to another street and lost her way back home. So, she stopped at a house and knocked on the door, asking the person who answered "Where is my Mama?" That person didn't know who she was or where her Mama might be, so he called the Sheriff. When my dad, who had gone out driving the neighborhood in search of her, spotted the Sheriff, stopped to ask for his help - not realizing that is why he had been called to the scene. So, we were reunited with my sister. Phew!

But that had not happened this time. And I decided to start calling Steffany's friends and even this guy she had been texting the day before - hopefully somebody would know where she was. But call after call, either a voice message system or somebody who had not seen her, but would ask around.

A call from one of her friends about 6:40PM... she had heard from one of their ROTC friends that they had spotted Steffany earlier in the day at the Forum shopping center. They thought Steffany was applying for jobs there. That is NOT where Steffany mentioned she was going when she left, but it was another place we could try looking.

I decided I would get ready and go look for her. But before I got downstairs to go out the door, she drove up and came inside - acting completely unaware that there was anything wrong. She had no idea we were concerned at all about her whereabouts. She had lost track of time. She was busy going from store to store, visiting with those she knew and filling out applications. She even interviewed with a few places. She was just happy to have the freedom to be out driving around on her own.

But let me assure you, she QUICKLY learned her mistake. She scared me half to death and I told her not to ever leave the house like that again and be gone that long without at the very least, calling us.

Now, Steffany wants us to approve of her dating this guy -
She even invited him to church this morning, and out to eat lunch with us this afternoon (James' buddy Kenny and his girlfriend were in town this weekend and we planned to go eat with them after church). I think it is going to be hard for us to be very welcoming to him anytime soon, though, because of all this trouble we've just been through with Steffany. I still think she is too young and immature to date someone that much older than her. Hopefully, they will just decide to be friends for now - and especially no more hickies or anything - and maybe someday in the future, we will approve - maybe like when Steffany is 18 or 19. We will see.

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