Parenting is all sorts of weird. The highs and the lows. The elation and the heartache. The bliss and the anger. If a soon-to-be mom or dad tells you they’re prepared for what’s to come, they’re either naive or lying. The whole experience is one giant what-do-I-do-now fest.
What I’m trying to say is that yesterday afternoon, at a DMV about 10 miles to the south, Casey Pearlman, 16-year-old daughter of a hack sportswriter/USFL fan, attained her driver’s license.
I am so proud.
I am so terrified.
With great power comes great responsibility. And this is a great power. Casey will now be driving down unfamiliar roads, up too-fast-for-her-adolescent-brain highways. She will be forced to make sudden stops; to pay hyper attention while people are yapping and the radio is blaring. She thinks she’s ready, and I think she’s ready. But it’s scary stuff.
I drove Casey to the DMV yesterday, and the experience ranks in the Top 20. She was super nervous, and the wait inside the building felt about 10 hours, but lasted, maybe, one. Her hands were sweaty, her toes were tappy. When they called her name, she took a deep breath, walked up to the line. It’s that merging of elation and terror. I compared it to the time I called Jody Cohen to ask her to the junior prom, then hung up, then called again, then hung up, then called again.
When it was finally Casey’s turn to take her test, I exited our Prius and felt my heart pounding. She’s a terrific kid, and I know how badly she wanted this. We’ve taken about 50 drives with her behind the wheel, and what started as A. Lot. Of. This. ultimately turned smooth and sound. She’s very attentive behind the wheel. Knows all the signals, the signs. She was ready. I knew she was ready.
So I sat, and waited, and waited, and waited, and thought a bit about Casey being born, and Casey learning to walk, and Casey on my shoulders at Disney World.
And when she returned, and flashed a smile, I wanted to cry.
They weren’t tears of fear.