It seemed like just yesterday when my oldest child turned 13, but it was actually five years ago. In fact, he just became an adult. His selective service card arrived in the mail the day after his birthday.
I told my friend, “Enjoy it while you can because once he gets his license you won’t see much of him at all anymore.”
I knew this was true and especially bittersweet in the case of my oldest because for more than two years, we spent an hour or more in the car together on the way to and from his out-of-state school or the bus stop in the next town over. I spent more time with him than many parents of teenagers, and when he got his license, the time was severed – abruptly – and it took me by surprise. While I didn’t miss driving him to and from school every day, I did miss him.
Final 40 hours
When my middle son was turning 16, people asked me, “What are you doing for his birthday?” I told them, “We’re going to the registry.” Of course, duh. Isn’t that what everyone wants to do when they turn 16?
Though, later on, I found out a lot of my middle son’s friends did not have their permits yet. “They’re not ready,” their parents informed me.
Uhm, isn’t getting them ready our job, as parents?
The year between 16 and 17 is fraught with so much change: first real job, first real girlfriend, starting to plan for college in addition to obtaining the driver’s license. I remember hearing at some point that the high school years are as developmentally significant as the years from birth to four. This time around with my middle son, I knew the 40 hours we spent together in the car where he did his requisite parent-supervised driving would be the final 40 hours.
He was a little nervous about the prospect of driving on any public roadways at first and required a little more prodding, but ultimately his first solo foray (just days after telling me, “I don’t know how I am going to drive without you in the car!”) was during an ice-storm on the way to school on a day when I thought there should have been a delay. On that particular day, I really didn’t want to, but I had to let him go.
[bctt tweet="The hardest thing about parenting is when the kids grow up and you have to let them go." username="carolineposer"]
He has had his license for just over a month. I may have only seen him for 15 minutes this past weekend (though we texted a good deal).
Driving my 12-year-old to the movies – with a girl
“Can you drive me to the movies? I want to ask So-and-so.”
“Wait, what? A girl? Can we start out a little more…uhm…relaxed? Like why don’t you meet her and watch a basketball game or something? You’re 12.”
So they did.
And they sit together on the bus home from school every day and they Snapchat each other, but several weeks passed and it was school vacation week and a cool movie came out that everyone was talking about, so I drove them.
I met her parents and we exchanged numbers, and it turned out So-and-so’s mom was taking So-and-so’s brother and a friend to the same movie, and then she brought them all home, so it wasn’t like a “date-date.”
But still! He’s 12.
Farewell Tour at Disney World
I planned some extras on the side of our college tour in Florida. We went to Universal Studios and The Magic Kingdom.
No one remembers the first time we went to Disney World. My older two were ages two and three and my youngest wasn’t even born. The second time, the boys were five, six, and nine months old. The time after that was when we went to Disneyland with Grandma. They were seven, six, and two. Skip ahead almost 11 years to the most recent – and probably last – time. It was a whirlwind long weekend of three college visits and the two parks and I felt like it was the farewell tour.
(I’m not even in the picture anymore.)
Yearbook recognition ad
I put off creating a yearbook ad for my oldest until almost the last day. I had an idea in my mind about what I wanted to do: a baby picture, a senior picture, and a bunch of pics in between (I wound up scaling this back a bit when I saw that if I wanted to use too many pictures in a half-page ad they’d be cluttered and small).
This necessitated me looking through the memory box, a ton of photo albums, and all my digital pictures. I relived his childhood all the milestones: the time he won the Tiger division of the Pinewood Derby with the car he made himself; the first time he pitched in the Cal Ripken Majors after a coach told me he wouldn’t be able to pitch at that level (because he had broken his arm the year before and missed much of the baseball season); the time we all traveled to California to see Grandma; the time he gave a speech as an eighth grade scholar leader; his first day of high school.
I find it hard to believe he will be fully launched in just over five months.
Of all the things I’ve had to do as a parent: juggling the boys’ busy extracurricular schedules; helping them navigate their trials, make good decisions, and do the next right thing if they’ve made a not-so-good decision, and on and on…all that stuff one does as a parent…even when I had no idea how I was going to do it day after day, week after week, month after month while working full time and trying to navigate my own stuff…and now that I’ve arrived at the end…the hardest thing about parenting is when they grow up and I have to let them go.