Recently, we bought our 16-year-old daughter a car. I wish I could say I was as excited about it as she was. Don’t get me wrong. I understand her joy – I remember the feeling of driving my first car. As she sits in the drivers seat she feels freedom, the thrill of the open road with the wind whipping through her hair as she listens to her favorite tunes. As she sits in the driver’s seat, however, all I can see is her being strapped to a 2-ton hunk of metal that screams danger…danger! Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration…or is it??
After months of searching we found just the perfect car. It wasn’t the armored tank I had hoped for, but it was the right size, price and met all of dad’s specifications. And it’s cute, which is the most important factor. I drove her to pick it up. The joy on her face gave slow release to my fears as I shared in her excitement.
She followed me home. At the first stop light I looked in my rearview mirror – she was beaming – I gave her a thumbs up. What she didn’t know is that I was literally seeing her in rear view. I wasn’t seeing the beautiful young woman in the shiny car behind me. I was seeing a little girl with her hair piled up in a bushy pony-tail on top of her head, squealing with delight as she ran with our beagles in the back yard… just yesterday! It was, just yesterday right?
In my rear view all I could see was the sweet long-awaited baby who we spent years praying for. The little cherub who got passed around at baseball games for the first summer of her life. The baby girl, who became the subject of her brothers’ arguments over who would hold her in church or whose turn it was to carry her through the grocery store. The bright-eyed three-year-old who belted out “Holy, Holy, Holy” from her grocery cart seat all through Walmart.
Man, that was a long stop light! When we got to the intersection where she was to turn to go meet her Youth group, she put on her signal and threw her hand up at me as she turned onto the county road, slowly moving out of my sight. In my “rear-view” I was seeing her on her first roller coaster ride. She was seven years old with a gapped tooth grin and little braided pig-tails sticking up all around her head. She waved at me then also, as she and her daddy, her protector and brave co-hort in thrill-seeking, rounded the first bend in their safari jeep car. If only he was snuggly buckled in next to her this time too.
Driving. It’s a segue for much to come…one of the first timid steps into adulthood. She’s moving forward….so must I. There’s a big open road ahead of her and I pray she travels it with the windows down, singing along with the radio and taking it all in (with her seatbelt on, never texting while driving or, in excess of the speed limit, of course – wink, wink).