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Our daughter the lifeguard …

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So the wife and son are out of town this weekend, leaving me solo with Casey, our 15-year-old daughter.

Which is fantastic.

Through the years, I’ve heard 10,000 warnings about teenagers and, particularly, teenage girls. They’re bratty, they’re selfish, they’re emotional, they’re demanding. On and on—all this awfulness of the post-13 years.

Only, to be honest, I’ve never enjoyed Casey more than I do now. When a child is growing and developing and morphing, it’s largely a one-way relationship of you giving and them taking. Yes, you receive hugs and kisses. But no one’s asking about your day, or your emotions. No one is showing much interest in you. If you cut your finger, it’s on you to fetch a Band-Aid.

At 15, my daughter is a fully developed person. Today, for example, we didn’t have much to do, so we drove 30 miles to IKEA for her first love, IKEA meatballs. We entered the store, found the restaurant, snagged our meatballs, sat down and … talked. She asked questions, I asked questions. She told stories, I told stories. At the table to our right, a young couple was sitting with a boy of maybe four or five years. He was whiny and fidgety, and I thought to myself, “God, this is sooooo much better.” Tomorrow we decided we’re having an all-day cookoff. Me vs. Her—a main course and a dessert. I can’t wait.

Also, Casey now has a job. She’s a lifeguard, which means we drive her to various area pools to sit in a chair and observe elderly swimmers. The trips have become my personal gold—just one-on-one time that, sadly, is fleeting.

See, that’s the sad part of it all. In a few weeks Casey takes her driving test. If she passes, those rides to and fro largely come to an end.

Sigh.

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