Thursday, August 4, 2016

Riding Shotgun

Perhaps because I'm an avid fan of historical fiction, I've begun referring to my sons as "the Heir" and "the Spare".  Their recent antics consisted of the Spare taking baby octopus for lunch to camp one day so he could freak out the other kids. He'd hoped the fried anchovies would be an even bigger hit, but instead, the other campers banned him from the table because of the fishy smell. Live and learn.

Monday, the Heir passed his road test the first time out. He can now drive, unsupervised, until 9pm. Legally. But that doesn't mean I'm ready to let him take my car. I've been sitting shotgun while he drives himself to work, picks up the Spare from camp, gets milk, etc.

Until today.

This morning I asked him if he felt ready to take the Spare to camp. Alone. He nonchalantly said, "sure," even though he's been clearly frustrated at my need to tag along lately. And so, short on sleep and prior to coffee, I gave him the keys and watched them leave.


Once the coffee kicked in, I started wondering what was taking him so long to get back. Then the customized "Heir" ringtone chimed on my phone. Oh my god, he's driving and texting did I teach him NOTHING I can't believe I ever..." 

*looks at phone

"I'm parked at the community center. Do you want me to go get gas?"


Sure, if you're comfortable with that."

"OK, see you soon."

I never wanted to be a helicopter parent, and I think I've done a pretty good job so far (big kudos to my husband for keeping me grounded in that regard). I also look forward to becoming a couple again when the kids are off on their own. The Heir will leave next summer, and the Spare will be three years behind him. It's like a light at the long parenting tunnel. As in, "yay, no more noisy, stinky housemates!"

But with all the recent college visits and driving lessons, I find my grip tightening instead of loosening. The Heir and I are fighting a lot. I expect more from him and he resists with more vehemence. Gotta admit, I kinda hate it.

Apparently, this is part of the process of letting go. Hold tight, and he will push harder to get away. He won't be afraid to leave. On the contrary, he'll look forward to it. He'll fight back so much, I'll *wish* he would go. He wants to be independent as much as I want him to be. And yet. Though I know it'll be good for everyone, and we're both looking forward to it, we haven't lost sight of the fact that it'll be a huge change. Even when we're fighting, we still understand, deep down, what it will really mean: he won't need me anymore.

I think back to the Heir's toddlerhood, of showing him how to do something and then having him take the toy from my hand and say, "I do it." It's happening again. Only this time, he's taking the car.

I'll get through it, I always do. And I feel just as proud as I did when he was little and learning and doing on his own.

Wasn't that just, like, last month?

Live and learn.