Is it Adolescent Rebellion or Something More Serious?

Proverbs 22:6

...contined from yesterday.

A day later Sarah texted with yet another idea. This time, she wanted to go to nursing school in Germany. To my knowledge, she had absolutely no experience speaking German. It felt as if any suggestion anyone made to her (other than Pedro and I) suddenly became her new plan in life.

By the middle of February I received a notice from our cellular carrier that we only had two gigabytes of data left for the month. I logged into our account and discovered that Sarah had burned through over 6 GBs since she left home. Evidently, the rural house where they stayed had no Internet and she spent a lot of time chain watching YouTube videos and posting links on Facebook to some pretty strange artists.

Sarah also posted videos of herself singing—which I always love because she has an amazing voice—but something about the quality of her voice had changed. She seemed to struggle to hit notes and stay on key—two things that had never plagued her before. But she felt as if her music career would suddenly take off.

Sarah Ojeda:
I got a gig for Sunday! They gonna pay me!!!! And the man wants to record me too in his studio ! I been discovered ‘nnnnnnbnnnb
Anita Ojeda:
Sweet! Singing where? For whom? Make sure you take a grandparent with you!
Sarah Ojeda:
At the beach
For the people of PR
Anita Ojeda:
Take them to both any recording things and the gig at the beach 😉
Sarah Ojeda:
I will be safeeee
Anita Ojeda:
Ok. It’s my job to bring it up!
Sarah Ojeda:
Hey Mom …i have a check for $200 that should be in your mailbox. Could you please today transfer that amount to my bank account? Thanks ! I need it today. I love you and I will transfer it back or you can deposit my check or just get a new one from DD
Anita Ojeda:
Why do you need it today?
Sarah Ojeda:
Never mind!
I got confused
-:) we are good.
How are you ?
Silly Wells Fargo.
Anita Ojeda:
Ok. That’s good, because I thought I gave you your last check before you left. I’m going to have to buy more data-it’s $30 for 2 GB. I don’t know if 1GB will do it. You’ve been cruising through 2.5 GBs a week.
Sarah Ojeda:
I will pay
The thirty
I probably will make that much at my gig tonight haaa
Anita Ojeda:
What will you be singing at your gig?
Sarah Ojeda:
Titanium and I will always love you
Two of my favorites /:)
And I already sang Titanium with him and he plays the bass guitar and it sounds amazing.

Of course, her news that she had a gig on the beach and that some stranger wanted to record her singing freaked me out. It sounded sketchy to me—I’d read enough books about modern-day slavery to have a real fear that in her vulnerable state someone would talk her into doing something that she would really regret…or even worse, that she would get raped, kidnapped or just disappear.

I decided I had to leave it in God’s hands, though, since I had already texted my advice. I spent a lot of time praying that day. The next morning I couldn’t wait hear how things had gone.

She sent me a text of her posing with a guy on the beach.

Anita Ojeda:
Who’s the boy? Pretty beach. How did the gig go?
Sarah Ojeda:
Didn’t happen
He is a cutie from NY. he was really sweet and fun to hang out with and take selfies and chat.
He was here with his dad, who did the gig every Sunday with a band. But he left now. 🙁
Anita Ojeda:
How come it didn’t happen?
Sarah Ojeda:
They do karaoke there at the same beach. I was signed up to sing Whitney but freaking Papiabuelo wanted to leave at eight because A was alone at home and she’s a baby
I am loosing friends
Left and right
But making friends
Oh mundo
Anita Ojeda:
Why? Because you’re posing with all sorts of boys and posting the photos on Facebook ;)?
Sarah Ojeda:
Because of the way they are and the way I am
Not sure exactly why
That has to do with it
I am a player for sure
But I am free
Not in any relationship and when I am which will probably never happen.
Anita Ojeda:
Well, I certainly hope you aren’t a ‘player’–that’s a pretty sad description. Maybe too immature to date yet might be a better way of saying it! You remind me of myself when I was 19…
Sarah Ojeda:
Anita Ojeda:
I would hang out with a guy who was a friend and make it appear that we were possibly more than friends in order to make the guy I really liked jealous. Um, it never worked and just sent the wrong signals to all guys involved.
Sarah Ojeda:
Ahah hahaaa
I’m not even sad
So cold hearted am I
Better that way
I’ll be better in time
Anita Ojeda:
Um, that’s what you said last time and we know how that turned out. It’s ok to feel sad but it’s ok to feel angry that they don’t understand you.
Sarah Ojeda:
Don’t need to remind me of last time
Anita Ojeda:
In fact, it’s healthier to have some emotions!
Sarah Ojeda:
I am free and how I am more free
Yes yes
I do have tjem
I will express Them tomorrow
In healthy ways hahaaa
Anita Ojeda:
Journal about them or draw a picture or two ;).

The next day, Sarah sent me a slew of photos of friends she had met in Puerto Rico and over the Internet. Most of the photos showed guys with their shirts off, flexing their muscles. One of the guys, dressed in the clothes of the Middle East, held a machine gun. My heart dropped.

Where had she found these ‘friends’? First of all, other than her short-lived crush in Argentina, Sarah had never been one to drool over boys or body parts. Suddenly, she seemed obsessed with both males and their physique. Odd. Really strange. I didn’t know how to react.

Her next text had me even more confused.

Sarah Ojeda:
Pray for me tomorrow at 8:30 my time
Anita Ojeda:
What’s happening?
Sarah Ojeda:
Something went down last week and I’m to $
I’ll tell you later
But you can probably guess
Anita Ojeda:
Aargh! I hate cryptic comments.
Sarah Ojeda:
Ok. I stole from a store and got caught because I forgot to give the stuff to P before I went to the car I was so hungry and listening to music so I didn’t hear the alarm. Had I heard it I would’ve remembered and returned the stuff to the cart. Boing to corty tomorrow to pay a $100 fine (Not bad)
Anita Ojeda:
Did you steal on purpose?
Sarah Ojeda:
And yes and no
I forgot
Sincerely didn’t mean to steal the things with sensors
But there was a swimsuit zzz
I swear to never enter a store
With my bad
Did my new card
In the mail
Yet ?
Anita Ojeda:
What new card?
Sarah Ojeda:
Tey to DNS or
Try to find it
Anita Ojeda:
No. Why are you getting a new one?
Sarah Ojeda:
I will call them
I lost mine
Need it
Won’t steal ushsjsiissu
Anita Ojeda:
You got an address confirmation postcard from Wells Fargo today
Sarah Ojeda:
No oooo
Need the card
Imma call them now
Anita Ojeda:
It can take ten days.
Did you ask them to send it to PR?
Sarah Ojeda:
It was about that long ago
Let me know when it comes
And send a pic of both sides
Anita Ojeda:
Well, the mail between PR and here is pretty slow…no one has received letters from you yet!
Sarah Ojeda:
O made a PayPal with it so I can kind of use it already
Anita Ojeda:
Ok, Dad and I are going to watch Downton Abby now. Good night, I love you! Make sure you let Dad know about the court date. I’ll be praying for you.
I’ll look for your debit card in the mail.
Sarah Ojeda:
Thanks but why tell him? I did not even need to tell you
Anita Ojeda:
Trust. It’s better to hear it from you than from someone else. I know you didn’t need to tell me, but I appreciate your honesty and your telling me makes me trust you more because you’re not hiding things from me.

I pointed my child in the right direction: Why does she seem so lost? #mentalhealth Click To Tweet

I honestly wondered at moments if some careless teenager had stolen my daughter’s phone and was playing a cruel prank on a hapless parent thousands of miles away with absolutely no recourse.

Half-nude boys? My Sarah wanted to meet a nice Christian young man who shared her values—not a gun toting rebel from a far-flung country. A swimsuit? My Sarah didn’t wear swimsuits—she wore shorts and a t-shirt if she had to get in the water. Shoplifting? My Sarah had held down jobs with great responsibility—she didn’t make excuses for forgetting to put the things with sensors in the cart (did that mean she had MORE in her bag?). Was this adolescent rebellion or something more serious?

Unfortunately, no one had stolen her phone.

…to be continued.

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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