We passed a major milestone here today in our family. There is officially another licensed driver in our household. Andrew passed his drivers exam and is legally on the road. Fred took him early this morning. I was happy to stay home and watch the little ones rather than deal with the stress of 'THE TEST' for 15 of the longest minutes of any teenagers life. So I stayed home and poured a cup of coffee. Then, the phone rang. It was Fred. He didn't want to have to watch the test alone, so he called here to give a blow by blow account of what he was viewing from the window. This was infinitely more painful then actually being there. Here is a snapshot of the conversation:
Fred: Hi. He's just getting in the car, he got a male instructor.
Ellie: Oh thats good, men are easier.
Fred: Yeah, thats what I said.
Ellie: How it going?
Fred:Oh No!- he's taking too long to parallel park.
Ellie:Is he doing it right?
Fred:Yeah sort of- I guess.I don't know. STOP ANDY! STOP! FOR CRYING OUT LOUD STOP! OK.
Ellie:WHAT?What ?what? What did he do?
Fred:Nothing. He's taking too long. GO FASTER!
Ellie:But is he doing it right?
Fred:GOOD GOLLY ANDY. STOP!!!NOW BACK UP!
Ellie:Oh no. Is he done?
Fred: WOULD YOU JUST PULL BACK ANDREW????!
Ellie: "What is wrong with him? PULL BACK!!!!"
Fred: OK, it looks like they're driving again.
Ellie:OK, OK. Is he doing OK?
Fred: BLINKER!BLINKER! BLINKER ANDY! PUT ON YOUR BLINKER!!!
Ellie: Did he fail? OH No, He failed. He should've listened to me. He never remembers the blinker!
Fred: I don't know. NO WAIT! Now they're going out on the road. I'll call you back.
Ellie: Wait, wait, how'd he do?Fred? Fred? AGHHHHHH!
So after this enormous build up of Fred screaming out all of Andrew's mistakes ( which sounded eerily reminiscent of how Fred also behaves when he is watching Nascar now that I stop and think about it) he hung up and made me wait it out. Finally the phone rang again. This time it was Andrew, announcing he had passed. I seriously almost cried.
Next thing I knew, he and Fred were back in the kitchen and I was viewing the new license. I told him he should head up to the Grotto with Peter and thank God he passed his test. He smiled as he climbed into the car. And then Fred and I were watching our oldest two sons drive away without us for the first time. Wow. How surreal. I am sure I will get used to it but the feeling is so new right now. That incredible moment of independence that a license represents!
I think Mom's think or rethink a whole lot about 'beginnings' when they view their children's milestones. At least I do. I found myself reliving a million moments of the last 16 years of Andrew's life from my pregnancy with him, to his birth, to teaching him to read, to watching him ride a bike, all of these memories flooding my mind in a happy way even as I watch him take one more step to not needing our support. That is the bittersweet reality parents face isn't it?
What an art it is to be able to let them go even as we desire to hold on tighter. As our first, Andrew has always had to bare the brunt of our inexperience. We had never had a baby before , then we never had a 2 year old before, and a teenager etc. He is used to our inadequacy even if we have to keep adjusting to it. Thankfully, he is patient as he teaches us how to be parents one more time. Of course as parents we think we are the ones who get to do the grading part "lets see he can walk, check, he can talk, check, he can read write add, check check, check." And its true these are all signs we are keeping our kids on track and we should rightly feel proud when they exhibit the ability to master a skill.
But those tables do take a turn at some point and the grading of our parenting abilities comes in much different ways than we ever anticipated...and perhaps many ways we have not taken into account in the least. While we were busy worrying about doctors appointments and schoolwork, they were watching our views on life, and liberty and philosophy. It all gets wrapped up together. We are always learning parents and children. That relationship is so intimate and unique that is renews itself almost daily. So now we have our first driver and thats a big deal. Hooray Andy! Good Job! Congratulations! And...Andy just one more thing I want to tell you... before you go....don't go too fast...
(And I'm not talking about driving....)
(And I'm not talking about driving....)