….is now this boy……
and everything about that is OK with me. I’ve waxed philosophic about his transformation in these pages here, times I look at him marching down his appointed road in life and I am warmed with the love and grace he carries, and the leaps and bounds he’s taken in life. He’s a good kid; he’s loved and treasured by his friends, adored by his family and solid in every way. He’s polite and courteous and kind and giving, he has an amazing laugh, he’s smart and funny and is learning to be such a good cook. He can take care of his laundry, do the cleaning, wash dishes and run a vacuum. He helps when he’s asked.
He still likes to sit next to me sometimes, with his head on my shoulder.
I get tears in my eyes when he snuggles our snuggly cat.
I love watching him and his Dad, their heads bent over a project, conversing about ‘guy’ things, both learning from the other.
I still wish sometimes I could reach under his blanket in the morning and feel his warm feet, as I loved doing that when he was a baby. Sometimes I still do, and he just smirks at me. Because he knows. Then he kicks my hand away.
I still marvel sometimes at the hair on his face, the depth of his voice, the growing up he’s done.
And I wrote a check out, placed it in an envelope and sent it in to confirm him for Drivers Ed. He sat through his classroom training, he saw videos of car crashes, he visited a salvage yard to look at the results of careless and inattentive drivers and when I asked him about it, his face went white a little, his voice dropped and he looked like he may cry. And that pleased me, in a parent sort of way.
Here is the scariest thing I’ve ever needed to do as a parent. It’s not the fear of holding down a screaming toddler when the nurse plunges a needle in to their leg; it’s not the scary first day of a new school, or the unknown of the first dentist visit, or telling your boy he needs to have teeth yanked from his mouth. It isn’t the plunging pain of watching doctors probe his swollen belly, while he screams in agony. It’s not the pain of holding them tight through Chicken Pox, strep throat or in the morning following a night of stomach flu. This isn’t like watching them closely in the ER, while a kind doctor slips thread on a needle and sews shut a fleshy gash in their skin.
No, this is giving them permission to operate a deadly weapon. This is giving them the go-ahead to get behind the wheel of a car, and know that they need to learn well, right now, this very moment. This is knowing that the next six months, after the permit is issued, that every time we go somewhere, it would be best to give him the keys, to sit tight and remind him, over and over again, of what he was taught. It’s knowing that when it snows, he’ll need to learn how to navigate that too, all while operating a deadly weapon. This isn’t a car; not in the hands of a 17 year old who thinks they know everything.
This car, this is a deadly weapon. He could kill someone with it. He could kill himself. He could kill us. If he doesn’t do it right, learn it right, be cautious about it, understand what he’s doing and learn the best methods, he could kill someone. And if this isn’t learned correctly, this will be a truth, possibly, that he’d need to live with the rest of his life.
This I repeat to him over, and over and over and over.
“You are not learning to drive a car.” I explain. “You are operating a deadly weapon.”
Today, my one and only child takes his permit test.