Sunday, June 25, 2006

Growing (Up) Pangs

This past week I watched my (now not so) little girl graduate from high school, and just 24 hours before that, this proud papa was beaming at a ceremony where she garnered so many awards, she had trouble carrying them to the car.

Just two days later we were driving her to a weekend orientation at the school that will be her new "home" come fall. Now, like most parents of teenagers, we feel that we have been practicing for Jennifer to leave home for some time now. She comes in from work, heads upstairs to do her homework - has to be summoned to meals – and, as soon as she is done ingesting her food, disappears back into her alcove. It's a bit like we are running a bed and breakfast, and she is a guest (except for the part where the innkeepers get paid, of course). In short, we, like our parents before us, have resorted to complaining about how little we see her. Except, of course, for those sporadic outbursts of emotion that inevitably flare up between kids who think they know best about all things, and parents who know better. Moments that call to mind (but fortunately not yet to mouth) thoughts like, “When are you going off to college again?”

Those occasional – and natural - tensions notwithstanding, the realization that she is getting ready to get on that road that will eventually take her out of our household really set in this weekend. Don’t get me wrong – I know there are many happy (and probably not-so-happy) times ahead. I realize that this is a beginning, not an end – and that, as a parent, you really want to see your children ready, willing, and just a little bit eager to strike out on their own. Or so you keep telling yourself.

Saturday was just a practice run of sorts for that day - just a couple of months from now - when we’ll actually be leaving her there for the fall term. But there was something about watching her head off with the rest of the kids for their activities that brought back memories of sending my little girl off to her first day of school.

And with those images came a startling reminder of just how quickly time flies, and how inexorably we march toward the future. A reminder that while you can put things off until tomorrow – tomorrow eventually arrives, whether we are ready or not.

- Nevin Adams

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