A few Friday's ago I borrowed a classic drop-top from my friend Rusty. I could write bunches about that friendship, but that's for another post, probably to be published posthumously. Nonetheless, the occasion was the Belle Ball for the Older Sister. She had a dress, a date, and a corsage.
And I had the keys to a '77 Caddy Cabrio.
I drove the Older Sister and her boyfriend, along with another couple, down to the Aquarium restaurant for the dinner and dance. We met up on the front step of her boyfriend's Bellaire mini-mansion, and we went through all the rituals of picture taking in various poses and pairings. But of all the photos, this is my favorite. It just captures the whole "moment" for me. The dress, the corsage, the Caddy.
She's almost 16.
We went to the Department of Public Safety yesterday to get her Instructional Driving Permit so I can teach her how to drive. We have to go back on Friday because she didn't have all the documentation to prove she is who she says she is.
She was bummed, justifiably so, but she didn't read the fine print about what she was supposed to bring to DPS, so it was only right she has to go back. She was so bummed out that she actually let me hold her hand across the armrest on the way home, just like when she was a little girl. I kissed her hand and told her I was truly sorry. It was just a little lie.
Like any parent, I'd like to protect my kids from disappointment, but a part of me was glad she couldn't get the permit. Not because I'm vindictive or cruel, no. But because it makes it three more days before she can get her license to drive alone, three more days that she'll depend on me for something. Three more days that I can hold on to the idea that I'm younger than I really am, three more days I can sleep at night without worrying what time she'll get in, three more days I'll have some say over where she goes and with whom.
And yet. And yet I am eager for her to grow and thrive and change and mature and become independent. It's the horrible beautiful fine line of parenting that, when walked, strikes the balance between freedom and boundaries, sailing the open seas and staying near familiar shores. It makes me pray for my kids, and all the parents I know who are doing their dead-level best to make the most of every teachable moment in the hopes that our kids won't repeat our mistakes, will build on what we give them, and learn that the ever-present clock is all the while ticking.