Joseph has a female friend in town, a very, very cute teenager girl who is two years older than he is and keeps asking him to hang out with her. Joe (who is a normal teenage boy) is all about wanting to do so. He lacks both his older brothers' reserve and caution. This one is my child, maybe more than all the others--will talk your ear off , is funny (gets that from his Dad), and is kind hearted to a fault. He is extremely likable and is somewhat cute himself (also courtesy of his dad).
He has more female friends than he does male friends. Joe likes girls. Has always liked girls. And really, really wants a girlfriend.
I've known this young lady and her family since she was five or so and am aware of a lack of a moral compass in her life. She's gone on youth group trips with me and I've seen her with other young men (and had to ask her to behave). I've also seen what she will do when she decides she wants one (Tried to break Daniel and a girlfriend up by lying to both of them--Interestingly, Daniel, naive as he was, didn't take the bait). Still, I do not want to shut her out of our lives and she is welcome here anytime she wants to come over. Apart from my other feelings about her, I remember the sweet girl from Sunday School and VBS and I believe that is who she is at her core. Also we know the boy is sixteen and we can't shield him forever. (Still, I am soooooo glad he doesn't have his license yet).
Up until now, we've been able to dance around most of their requests to get together. The only time they've seen each other, they wanted to meet at the park and go for a walk. We said yes, but sent Sam along to keep them company. That worked out well as Sam was told to stick to them like glue and he was more than happy to do so. He's good like that.
Today she asked Daniel to go swimming with her and her older sister. With many reservations we said yes. Gary dropped him off at the sister's house and ran to the store for me. There was a car in the driveway then.
Upon his return, he passed by the house and noticed that the car was gone, but something about the whole situation just didn't sit right. So, trusting his gut, he stopped by, knocked on the door, and the young lady answered. Joe comes bounding up behind her all smiles, talking fast. The young lady's sister had to run out for a while and they were playing Wii, they explained. She was going to be right back and then they were going swimming.
"So you're here alone?" Gary said.
Joe nodded, still smiling.
"Let's go son."
To his credit, Joe didn't argue, didn't even try look shocked (unlike Jeremiah, a few years back, when we told him he could NOT recline on the sofa with his girlfriend).
When Joe returned, we chatted about why it wasn't appropriate for them to be alone in the house together (I really thought we'd covered this). Again, he didn't argue, just smiled and made a joke about it because that's Joe.
Then I fixed him with a steely eyed stare, guaranteed to stop the joking. "The next time something 'unexpected' like that happens, I expect a phone call. If we check in with you and find another situation like we did today-having told us you'd be one place when you were supposed to be another--you will be so grounded, you'll be asking permission to exhale."
Joe is a good kid. He didn't argue. "Yes ma'am," he replied. But I could feel his frustration.
We have invited the young lady over for dinner next week, but we are still (I can tell) not cool and we could not possibly understand . . .
Ohhh, but we do, Joe . . . we do.