The school year in my family has officially ended. My daughter, whose last day of school was last week, received her report card today. It was a good report card, not stellar and not terrible, but a good report card. I have to say I’m proud of her for all the work she put into her education this year along with all of her extracurricular activities. She was on at least three different student activities along with playing the violin and going to dance class once a week.
She is more involved in her community at the age of thirteen than I was at twenty-three. I’m proud of her and all her interests… well maybe not her taste in music, but I’m working on that. (I’m going to secretly load up some Led Zepplin, AC/DC and Iron Maiden on her iPod. Don’t tell her.) She truly is an amazing creature. I can’t believe I’m responsible for her and her upbringing.
I remember the day we took her home from the hospital, I was pushing my wife in a wheelchair and my wife was holding this tiny bundle of hope in her arms and as we crossed the thresh hold of the hospital I leaned down and whispered in her ear “I can’t believe they are letting us take our kid out of here. Do they even know who the fuck we are? Are we even responsible enough to be parents?”
My wife laughed and then said she was thinking the same thing.
Now fast forward over thirteen years later and my teenage daughter, who when she is not sitting in her room texting, playing on her iPod or watching a video on the television or computer is talking about feeding homeless people, helping the poor, recycling, or complaining about classmates who think they are better than everyone in the class and are doing nothing but causing problems is asking me to fork over ungodly amounts of money so she can be a cheerleader or go for a ride on my motorcycle or even try to figure out how to increase her upper body strength.
Where the hell did my little kid go who would sit and watch hockey and football games go? When did she grow up? When did she become interested in boys and wonder when her first kiss would be? I’ve missed a lot because of variables in my life but I’ve always tried to make sure to make contact with her. But, in this digital age, it is hard for me to maintain my objective outlook on her eventual adulthood. It sucks.
She used to crawl into my lap every night and fall asleep and I would carry her upstairs to her bed and tuck her in. Before that she would crawl into my bed and color or read or play video games until she fell asleep and when I went up to bed, I would pick her up and carry her to bed and tuck her in. Now, I’m not even allowed in her room, I just knock on the door and say “I love you Goose.” And I hear her response through the door “I love you too Daddy. G’night.”
The only time she wants to crawl into my arms is when she has had a bad day and needs consoling from her daddy. Or when we are riding on my Harley and she wraps her arms around my waist and hugs me tightly. This changes at the stop lights in our town, she will drape her arms over my shoulders with her hands clasped near my neck, I take this opportunity to kiss her hands and say “I love you Goose.” She always hears me and she always responds with the ever familiar words “I love you too Daddy.”
Those moments, on my motorcycle have replaced the moments watching sports on television and the moments when she would fall asleep in my arms after a long day playing at day care, school, or even with the neighborhood kids. I cherish these moments and I realize that I have adapted to her ever expanding life and that soon I will have to adapt again. I will have to come up with another way to connect with her. These are the growing pains of a parent. The growing pains of an adolescent are much different and are a direct variable of what the parent has to go through to help their child.
This model sucks.
Not necessarily for the kids, but for the parents. As parents we are ill prepared for all the shit that our kids have to deal with. After all, we were kids when computers didn’t even have windows, unless you programmed them yourself. It is hard to keep up with all the websites, apps and various other bullshit that seems to come down the pipeline our offspring have to deal with. But, as semi-responsible adults we try. But I feel those efforts are all in vain. After all, how can you stop the speed of light let alone the speed of electrons?
All I know is that I cherish the small moments of innocent intimacy I have with my daughter. Even if she drops the occasional “F” bomb or “S” Bomb in front of me. (Which I have to say, makes me even more proud of her.)
To sum all this up, I’m going through middle age growing pains at the hands of a teenage girl. All the while I’m making sure I have plenty of ammo for my Glock, a good shovel and some very desolate locations in the local swamp.
Have a great week.