Disclaimer to any considered readers: I won't actually do this to any future children of my own.
In college, I remember during student teaching when they told us that as a teacher we become "in loco parentis." In broken Spanish, this would seem to translate as crazy parents, but in Latin it means "in place of a parent." And for the next eleven months of my life, I'm going to be "in loco parentis" for a Swedish teenager.
Suddenly, a few maternal instincts have kicked in:
I'm beginning to consider the thousands of different situations she could get into, as I remember what it's like to be seventeen, and I'm beginning to fear the dreadful call reporting "I messed up." And even though I haven't met her in person yet, I'm beginning to care for her in unexpected ways like making sure she can be taken care of if she gets sick. I'm worrying about her grades already, and school hasn't even started. I'm hoping she will make friends at school, but I also hope she won't get too cool that she won't want to hang out with me still. What a dreadful thought.
And then, I'm worrying about a whole lot of other factors too. Like, what will people think of me? I'm already receiving criticism in the form of doubt. I think about things like Meet the Teacher night and going down to talk to her teachers, and knowing they doubt me because I'm so young. Yes, I know, I couldn't have birthed a seventeen year old at my age. But does age actually amount to your ability to parent? I think many factors determine your ability to love and care for another individual.
Kids learn from us. When I think about how I grew up, whether it be at age seven or seventeen, I think about my role models. My parents of course, but also the wonderful teachers I had, and the support systems I had in place from my friends and their families. When I think back on these years, I see it really does take a whole village to raise a child.
I might be loco, but I hope I do okay at this whole parentis thing.