It’s official – my daughter has her driver’s license.
This is one of those milestones for both parents and child. I think I was almost as nervous as she was on the day of her test. And think about this – for most kids, the day you take your driving test is likely the most important day of your life to that point! Many people might say they were more nervous that day than they were for graduation or a wedding; at least those days didn’t require a test the day of!
Jayna did just fine. And as we drove home, I contemplated what all this meant. After all, Michelle and I are now the parents of a 16-year old. She has her license. She has a car. She just got a job. Even she said she’s slowly becoming an adult.
When the kids were young, I struggled more as a parent. I tend to interact better with people who can carry on a conversation. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed playing with the kids when they were little. I loved seeing first steps, hearing first words, and even cleaning up all the CD cases when they’d be strewn around the living room or picking up all the bouncy balls from every nook and cranny of the dining room.
But it was a huge step when we could drive to school and talk about what was happening in life outside of what Dora the Explorer did yesterday or what Elmo was so excited about. Reading books that didn’t always rhyme was pretty awesome too (even though I may never forget most of those Dr. Seuss books). Having music play by classic rock bands or even Weird Al and listening to the kids sing along sure beat the Wiggles over and over.
Coaching my kids in basketball and baseball has been one of my biggest pleasures and privileges. It has given me the opportunity not only to become involved in areas that they really enjoy but also to help develop the skills of their friends and classmates. Being able to be involved in your kids’ activities, be they sports or not, provides some of the best memories.
And now I drive to work by myself most days. Why would Anton ride with Dad when he can go with his sister, even if it means leaving earlier? It’s not like there was ever much argument about what I played on the radio, but still. I guess a positive is I can put all my school materials in the front seat with me now instead of stowing everything in back.
I’ve always been in favor of my kids growing up. That sounds like an odd statement, I know. Still, I’ve enjoyed every step in this progression. Each milestone leads to the next one, and they’re all so fun to celebrate and relish. Remember when you no longer had to buy formula or diapers? How about when you wrote your last daycare check? What about the move from the elementary school to middle school and then to high school and then… ?
Huh. It’s starting to feel a bit like I’ve reached the top of the roller coaster hill; the headlong plummet is about to commence. (Funny aside: As I typed my first draft, the song “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now” from Hairspray started to play. Coincidence?) I can remember my years of high school and how quickly they flew by. And then college. And then real life.
By the time you read this, I’ll have been fortunate to have celebrated my 19th wedding anniversary. I was so lucky to meet Michelle, my lobster, and work together to start this family unit. She’s been the rock in helping guide our kids through ups and downs and keeping my head on straight most days. Michelle’s steadiness is inspirational to me, and the love I feel for her is nigh indescribable.
And again, I say to myself, “Really? 19 years?” Was it really that long ago that we got married on a windy October day with so many great friends and family members there to help us begin our life together? It seems, at times, like the blink of an eye.
It’s also been 25 years for each of us since we graduated from high school in 1992. That seems most startling of all. Looking back through the tunnel of time takes squinting to check out the bad hairstyles and strange choices in clothing from that long ago.
And sometimes I think that wind from our wedding day has really been blowing more and more over the years, pushing us forward to each new special occasion at a quicker pace. It won’t be long and I’ll be talking about Jayna’s graduation, Anton driving and also graduating, college choices, careers, families, and all the other things that go along with being a parent.
My mom always says it’s not her age that bothers her, it’s mine, being her oldest child. It’s not that she can’t be the age she is, but that I can’t be the age I am. I’m starting to understand that more and more as I watch my 16-year old drive off into life.
Word of the Week: This week’s word is mammothrept, which means a person with immature judgment, as in, “The father hoped he had not raised a mammothrept when he saw an email from her principal.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!