“Delete your Facebook messages!” I stared at the text, trying to decipher why my sister randomly texted and why I should delete them. In the middle of texting back to her, my phone buzzed. “Ma is reading your messages with your boyfriend.”
I thought I would pass out; my heart pounded, my lungs felt heavy, my palms sweat, and my legs shook. At first, my mind went blank, but I immediately snapped out of it. I tried to unlock my phone as fast as possible but the “bzz”s from my phone told me I wasn’t typing in the right password. Even after I busted in, junk cluttered my screen that I could not swipe away; my fingers felt swollen and stiff. But I made it. I got on to messenger and deleted the conversation.
The problem wasn’t the conversation. The problem was the boyfriend. As I grew up my parents reminded me often that dating was off-limits. If I did date before I graduated university, I would be a failure. Their logic wasn’t even logical. For example, my parents predicted if I dated someone in high school, we would both drop out and not go to college. I’m sure they made up this bogus claim to scare me away from relationships. In my parents’ world, dating was a heinous crime, when in reality, it’s a natural experience in life.
In effect, they treated me like a hatchling. To shelter me from danger and pain, they kept me in a nest high above reality. I could never stay overnight at a friend’s house. I was expected to be home by 10 p.m. They interrogated me before I left the house. They tracked me with a GPS on my phone. All of these attempts to restrict me failed to keep me away from boys.
In addition, they lost my trust. If my parents felt they had to go through all those means to make sure that I was not out making poor decisions instead of trusting me, then why should I trust them? Why should I tell them everything when they would think I was lying? I wanted to be open and talk to my parents, yet the way I was raised prevented me from doing so.
After I deleted the conversation, I tried to reassure myself everything was okay, but I knew that was not true. My eyes locked onto the phone’s screen. I looked for any signs of life while I waited for the dreaded phone call from my mom. There wasn’t a single notification for a couple minutes, and my anxiety kept building. It finally came.
“You need to come home right now. Where are you?”
“A friend’s house. Why?” I tried to act oblivious and carefree because I thought that I had not done anything “bad,” but the guilt of going behind my parents’ back and disappointing them made my voice tremble.
My parents demanded that I end the relationship. To appease them, I faked a breakup. I had barely strayed from the nest, but out of nowhere they forcibly dragged me back into the safety of the nest. The little taste of freedom and growth I had was swooped away from me in minutes. If my ma refused to support my decisions, I wanted her to realize how badly our relationship would suffer. I refused to talk to her and tried to avoid her as much as possible. Whenever she came up to me to give me food or gifts as a small offering, I would completely ignore her or walk away. I burrowed further into secrecy.
“Are you still seeing him?” my mom was on the brink of yelling. People were staring at us in the Vatican city. I was sweating nervously; neither the sweltering weather nor the crowds of bodies helped the problem.
“Yes. We never broke up.” My mother was glaring at me, her hand gripped my phone so tightly I thought she would break it. I didn’t care anymore. Nearly a year had passed since the first incident and I was ready to be free; I had been kept inside the nest for too long. College was right around the corner, and if my mother did not accept the relationship as a sign of her trust in me, I would gladly live on campus. Tuition was not an issue, so the only thing that could become a problem was my ties to my family. Tension between me and my mom had remained ever since I was caught the first time, so our relationship was already on the brink of ruin. It might sound like I was rooting for my family to abandon me, but family truly is important to me. I’ve always tried to appease my parents, and I didn’t mind the restrictions when I was younger.
Some adults may argue that hovering over their children is the ideal situation because they can basically control the experiences their kids are exposed to and prevent them from being involved in dangerous situations, such as being exposed to drugs or alcohol. However, to grow as a person one needs experience, and no matter what my mom may tell me, there are certain situations and experiences I have to go through myself. If she continued to shield me away from everything, then I would become a child in the body of a adult.
After I was caught the second time, the relationship between me and my mom changed. When we got back to the U.S. she didn’t tell me to stop contacting my boyfriend, but she wouldn’t allow me to go out either. It took her a month to finally say, “Bring him home.” My eyes widened, and a smile unconsciously broke out. She realized that I had grown. I did not fit inside the nest anymore, and I had broken free from being the nestling stuck under the barrier of protective parents. My perseverance allowed me to break through, and achieve the next stage of my life.