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An abandoned house | Source: Shutterstock
An abandoned house | Source: Shutterstock

My 14-Year-Old Daughter Started Coming Home Late in Dirty Clothes — One Day I Followed Her and Was Shocked by Where She Went

Prenesa Naidoo
Jul 04, 2024
08:30 A.M.

When Nina feels that something is off with her daughter, Ivy, she grows concerned. Before she knows it, she ends up following Ivy after school one day, leading to an abandoned house with a homeless man and his dog inside. What has her daughter gotten herself into?

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"Mom, just cut it out," my daughter, Ivy, said to me. "I'm just going through an introvert phase. I don't like to talk about everything I do, you know."

A teenage girl | Source: Midjourney

A teenage girl | Source: Midjourney

"I'm just asking what you'd like for breakfast, Ivy, and what you're doing today. That's all," I replied.

Every mom knows when something is up with their child. For me, it was my 14-year-old daughter, Ivy. She had always been a bubbly and open child, but recently, she had started acting strange.

A close-up of a woman | Source: Midjourney

A close-up of a woman | Source: Midjourney

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It seemed like she was hiding something from me, and as her mother, I couldn't just let it slide. I spoke to my best friend, Alison, about it.

"Look," I said. "I just want to know what's happening in her life, Alison. The world is just scary for females. So, I'd rather know if anything is going on and be ready if I need to step in."

Two women sitting together and talking | Source: Midjourney

Two women sitting together and talking | Source: Midjourney

"As Ivy's godmother," Alison said, picking up a croissant, "I think that you just need to give her a bit of space. Be vigilant, of course, but let her do her own thing. Watch from a distance."

I nodded. It made sense. I didn't want my child to ignore me altogether.

Croissants and coffee on a table | Source: Midjourney

Croissants and coffee on a table | Source: Midjourney

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Ivy had always been a straight-A student and loved spending time with her friends. My husband, Tom, and I were proud of the life we had built for our family. He was an architect, and I ran a small but thriving bakery in town.

Our lives were cozy and easy because we had worked hard to set ourselves up. The weekends were often filled with laughter, barbecues, and family games.

A fancy bakery | Source: Midjourney

A fancy bakery | Source: Midjourney

But recently, Ivy started coming home later than usual. She'd walk in the door, her clothes dusty and her face flushed.

"Darling, what's going on? Why are you so late?" I asked one evening as I made dinner. "Were you at school?"

A woman making dinner | Source: Midjourney

A woman making dinner | Source: Midjourney

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My daughter looked at me, hesitating before she smiled slowly.

"School stuff, Mom," she said. "Nothing to worry about. I'll wash up and then come have dinner."

She avoided my gaze the entire time, instead looking out the window.

"School stuff? What stuff? Your clothes are filthy. Are you sure everything is okay? Oh, my goodness. Look at your shoes!"

A pair of dirty shoes | Source: Midjourney

A pair of dirty shoes | Source: Midjourney

"Yeah, Mom," Ivy replied. "It's just some projects that we're working on. It's outside, so we're bound to get dirty," she said quickly, heading up to her room with her backpack.

This didn't sit right with me. Something was off, and it bugged me. I knew my daughter, and I knew when something was wrong.

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A frowning woman looking up | Source: Midjourney

A frowning woman looking up | Source: Midjourney

"I'll let it go for a moment," I muttered to myself as I chopped vegetables.

Then, one afternoon, I decided that I couldn't take it anymore. I left the bakery early, making up my mind to go to Ivy's school and follow her to wherever she went after school.

A woman wearing an apron | Source: Midjourney

A woman wearing an apron | Source: Midjourney

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"Are you sure about this?" Alison asked on the phone when I told her what I was doing.

"Yes," I said. "This needs to stop."

"Do whatever you need to do," Alison said. "But just remember that she's a child and she needs support. Be supportive first and then angry later. If there's a reason to be angry, I mean."

A woman on the phone | Source: Midjourney

A woman on the phone | Source: Midjourney

I parked a little distance away from the school and waited as the final bell rang. As students poured out of the building, I spotted Ivy. Instead of heading to the school bus, she turned in the opposite direction, walking toward a quiet residential area.

I tailed my daughter, feeling a mix of guilt and determination.

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Was I doing the right thing?

A woman holding her face | Source: Midjourney

A woman holding her face | Source: Midjourney

"Yes, you are," I told myself.

After about 15 minutes, we found ourselves in a sketchy part of the neighborhood. It was notorious for teenagers hanging out and experimenting with drugs.

Teenage boys standing against a wall | Source: Midjourney

Teenage boys standing against a wall | Source: Midjourney

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"Oh, Ivy," I muttered. "What have you gotten yourself into?"

My heart pounded as I saw my daughter turn off the main road and go into an alleyway. I parked the car and followed her on foot, keeping my distance so she wouldn't notice me.

The alleyway led to an old, abandoned house.

An abandoned house | Source: Midjourney

An abandoned house | Source: Midjourney

I watched as Ivy slipped inside through a broken door. Panic surged through me.

"What is she doing here?" I asked the world around me.

Inside, the house was dimly lit and filled with the smell of dampness and decay. I crept through the hallway and peeked into a room. There, I saw Ivy standing next to an old homeless man and his puppy.

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A homeless man sitting down | Source: Midjourney

A homeless man sitting down | Source: Midjourney

"I've brought this for you," I heard Ivy tell him.

She began to pull food and warm clothes from her large backpack, handing them to the man.

"Ivy!" I shouted, unable to keep my silence anymore. "What are you doing here?"

Winter clothing | Source: Midjourney

Winter clothing | Source: Midjourney

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My daughter looked up, startled.

"Mom! I can explain!" she said, moving toward me.

But before she could say more, I turned to the homeless man.

A panicked woman | Source: Midjourney

A panicked woman | Source: Midjourney

"Get away from her!" I shouted.

The man, who looked about 60 years old, raised his hands in a gesture of peace.

"Ma'am, please, let us just explain," he said.

Ivy stepped between us.

A teenage girl | Source: Midjourney

A teenage girl | Source: Midjourney

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"Mom, he's not a bad person," she said. "This man, Frank, saved me from some street hooligans a few weeks ago. I had just left school and was about to walk to the bakery when they tried to rob me. Frank chased them off. We became friends. And this is his puppy, Buddy."

I looked at Frank, who nodded solemnly.

A close-up of a puppy | Source: Midjourney

A close-up of a puppy | Source: Midjourney

"It's true, ma'am. I'm just trying to get by," he said.

My anger quickly dissolved. This man had saved my baby from something that could have hurt her badly.

"He's been on the streets for years," Ivy said. "Frank's family kicked him out for drinking too much, but he stopped more than ten years ago. They moved to another country, and now, he's all alone."

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A close-up of a man | Source: Midjourney

A close-up of a man | Source: Midjourney

I took a deep breath, feeling the weight of the situation settle on me.

"Why didn't you tell me, Ivy?"

"I knew that you'd worry," she said softly. "But Frank needed help, and I thought I could do something about it."

Frank looked at me with sad eyes.

A close-up of a man | Source: Midjourney

A close-up of a man | Source: Midjourney

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"I don't want any trouble, ma'am," he said. "Little Ivy has been kind to me. That's all."

"Mom, please," Ivy pleaded. "Can't we just help him?"

I sighed, feeling my heart soften.

"Alright, Ivy. Let's see what we can do."

After that, I couldn't get Frank's story out of my mind. And on the drive home, Ivy began to talk to me, letting me in.

A woman driving | Source: Midjourney

A woman driving | Source: Midjourney

"It's just that I felt so grateful for Frank, Mom," she said. "I was really scared when the boys came up to me, and Frank made me feel safe. We need to help him, okay?"

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A few days went by and I decided that Frank needed a second chance.

"He can be a cleaner at the bakery, Tom," I said when we sat down and I told him everything that happened.

A couple sitting together | Source: Midjourney

A couple sitting together | Source: Midjourney

"And you think this is a good idea?" Tom asked, pouring us some tea.

"He helped Ivy when she needed it the most. We owe him."

"Do what you need to do," Tom said, smiling. "And as for his living situation, I just bought a trailer off one of the guys from work. I bought it on a whim. We can fix it up for Frank and he can live there until he's back up on his feet. I'll sort the paperwork out."

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A trailer home | Source: Midjourney

A trailer home | Source: Midjourney

One evening, Frank came by the house to thank us.

"I don't know how to repay you," he said, his voice trembling.

"Just stay on the right path, Frank. That's all we ask," my husband replied, patting him on the back.

Frank smiled, his eyes filled with gratitude.

A close-up of a smiling man | Source: Midjourney

A close-up of a smiling man | Source: Midjourney

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"I will. And thank you for giving Buddy a home, Ivy," he said.

All in all, my daughter taught me that an act of kindness can change many lives. Now, we have Frank as part of our family. And Buddy, who had moved in with us, as Ivy's little companion.

A smiling woman | Source: Midjourney

A smiling woman | Source: Midjourney

What would you have done?

If you enjoyed this story, here's another one for you.

My Daughter Kept Taking an Extremely Heavy Backpack to School — I Realized Why When I Finally Met Her Bus Driver

Juliet, a single mom, loves raising her nine-year-old daughter, River, by herself. River pushes her to be better. But after a while, Juliet begins to notice fierce independence taking over her daughter—wanting more responsibility and autonomy. Then Juliet discovers a secret that comes with River's backpack, and a hidden friend comes to light.

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Life as a single mom in the suburbs is a tightrope walk between joy, coffee, and juggling acts. I'm Juliet, a financial advisor, striving to build a career robust enough to secure a bright future for my nine-year-old daughter, River.

A mom and daughter on a dirt road | Source: Unsplash

A mom and daughter on a dirt road | Source: Unsplash

River, as carefree and flowy as her name, is my ultimate pride and joy—and the biggest blessing I could have ever asked for. Since my husband deserted us and fled to a new state when River was only a toddler, the brunt of parenting fell solely on my shoulders.

"At least this way," my mother said, feeding River, "you don't have to worry about your daughter learning Richard's lying and cheating ways. She's all yours, and you can mold her in the way you want."

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A grandmother carrying her granddaughter | Source: Unsplash

A grandmother carrying her granddaughter | Source: Unsplash

And that was the best part. My relationship with River's father had been strained because his eyes were always wandering to other women, and when he left, I felt a sense of relief.

My daughter would be all mine. And I could teach her how to navigate a world with tricky men at every corner.

A man walking away with a suitcase | Source: Unsplash

A man walking away with a suitcase | Source: Unsplash

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Read the full story here.

This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided “as is,” and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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