Monday, December 15, 2003

Of teens and their parents

My daughter turned 16 two weeks ago. To be honest I have trouble imagining my "little" girl as a HS student. It only seems a couple years ago that she would greet me at the end of my work day by flinging her self against my legs all but knocking me over. It was only a couple years before that when I held her tiny, 3.5 pound body in my arms, small enough that her butt was at my wrist and her head nestled against my elbow.
Last night she drove my car (with me in it) for the first time. Is this how my Dad felt? I remember those first times in the driver's seat with him next to me as some of the most terrifying moments of my life to that point. It was petrifying! The fear that I would mess up (my greatest fear is and probably always will be failure. Especially in front of my family) stopped just short of debilitating. Now I'm in the other seat and I'm almost as worried.
She did fine, especially for someone who has only been driving for two weeks. But I found myself grabbing, as unobtrusively as possible, the handle on the passenger door. I made sure that my comments and corrections came out quietly and calmly. I refrained from slamming my foot down on the "parent pedals" on the floorboards under my feet. My voice never became strangled or shrill. To the best of my ability I sat calm and supportive in my seat, speaking only encouragement and gentle advice.
That of course was the outside. Inside I cringed several times, shouted, pounded on the dashboard, and looked about wildly attemtpting to identify the next obstacle between me and safety at home. I noted every defect in her style, her hand positions, her use of the controls, her focus. Within I was a screaming lunatic, bracing my feet against the dash to brace me against inevitable doom as I hung dangling from the seatbelts.

In the end we arrived home without incident. I gave her a solid B for her work. There was no parental nervous breakdown.

So I suppose we both passed.


No comments: