Here's something that doesn't happen every day. I'm home alone on Saturday; Laura and the boys have gone to Target. There's a frantic knock at the front door. I open the door, and there stand two teenage girls and a teenage boy. (Their names have been changed even though they're innocent). They're looking for my 15-year old. And they're full of energy like they're on an adventure. When I tell them that my son is not home, they want to wait for him. They travelled over an hour to get here. I ask how they know him and they say they met him online on Myspace. I gather that he had no idea they were coming. I invite them in and call my boy to come home(Thank God for cell phones). I offer them a drink. Only Jamie takes one.
Then I say "Until he gets here, you have to talk to me." "Okay!" is the response.
TDad: So you met my boy on Myspace? What exactly do you do on Myspace?
Jamie: Well, you make friends. You post pictures, and your friends comment on them. You talk about stuff.
TDad: Do you all have a Myspace page?
Jamie and Carrie: Yeah.
Derek: I hadn't gone to my page in a long time. I signed on and there were all these people there that I didn't even know.
TDad: So do you then go visit these people, like you're doing now?
Carrie: Yeah, I have.
Jamie: No, I've never done this before.
TDad: So what's the deal with my boy? What made you come and visit him?
Carrie: Ask Jamie, I just came for the ride.
Derek: I just came 'cause they needed a car.
Jamie: Well he seemed like such a nice guy.
Carrie: I don't even live around here. I live in Utah. But I'm not a Mormon!
Jamie: So are you having a nice summer?
TDad: Well I don't really get a summer like you guys do. I still have to work.
Jamie: Well, what do you do?
TDad: I work for the Methodist Church. I edit books and do some other stuff.
So how do you guys know one another?
Jamie: Well Carrie and I met at church. She came to spend the summer with her mother who lives around here. She lives with her dad in Utah.
TDad: So what church do you go to?
Jamie: Well, it's the LDS church, but I'm not a Mormon. I'm a Christian. It's just that my parents make me go to the Mormon Church.
Carrie: Yeah , my dad and stepmother, too. My dad is like the stake president, but I'm not a Mormon.
Jamie: So, are you Baptist or Methodist? Your boy said you guys go to a Baptist church, but didn't you say you work for the Methodist church?
TDad: I'm a Christian. I try to follow Jesus. That's what's important to me. My Baptist friends might think I'm a little too Methodist. My Methodist friends might be afraid I'm Baptist. I just care about trying to follow Jesus.
So how does that work for you? You have to go to the Mormon church, but you don't agree with it. What don't you agree with? And what happens when you go?
Jamie: Well, basically no-one talks to me cause I look like this. I like to dress kind of goth. And, like, right now this sleeveless top, I couldn't wear there and you're supposed to have only one earpierce in each ear. I just don't think you should force people into those beliefs.
Carrie: Yeah, my parents force me to go to church, and I don't think you should do that. I think people should be allowed to decide for themselves what they believe.
TDad: We make our boy go to church.
Jamie: Yeah, I heard that.
TDad: Well, I agree with you. People should be allowed to make up their own minds about what they believe. No-one should try to force them to believe anything. Actually no-one can. We know that. I have no desire to force my kids to believe anything. But I do hope that they live Christian lives. As along as they live with us and until they are 18, we make them go to church. As parents we want to train them that way. But we know we can't make them believe anything.
About that time Laura and the boys come home. I leave the teens to their own conversation.