Wednesday, April 24, 2013

If you see her coming, please be careful; that's my baby in that car

Honestly, part of me wanted her to fail.

Any parent will understand this. Anyone whose ever watched something slowly slip away will understand. With each milestone -- each license, each new grade, each birthday -- is one more indisputable sign that the little girl whose hair I used to put in pigtails when she was two is growing up.

But who was I kidding? This is a kid who rarely fails, who rarely leaves anything to chance, who practices things dozens, hundreds, thousands of times to make sure she's giving herself the best possible chance to succeed.

So I knew that when the day came when she'd take her driver's test, she'd pass. Most kids pass, of course (this is far from a towering achievement.) But it's an achievement that is possibly more important to a 16-year-old than any other. It means freedom. It means going to the mall when you want. It means not having to wait for Dad to finish reading the paper to run over to a friend's house. Freedom.

And for some parents it's a day of cheering. It means that, instead of hauling the boy off to baseball practice, we can toss her the keys and say, "Here, you do it." And I probably will, too. But I'd give every convenience back and then some if there was some way to keep her from growing up.

Readers of my blog might remember something I wrote a year ago or so, back when we first started the process of learning to drive. We'd go up to the big parking lots at Minnesota State University and just drive around, really slowly, for a while. I remember when we pulled in, switched seats, and she sat behind the driver's wheel. She looked terrified, like she thought the wheel was going to jump out and bite her if she moved too quickly. Now that seems so long ago, and so many hours driving around town with my little girl.

She probably didn't see it this way, but I saw every one of those times as a gift, an hour to hang out with my favorite girl, listen to her laugh and talk about all the funny things that happened at school that day. To her it was time spent learning how to drive. To me it was ... I don't know. It's hard to put into words, really. And now it's over. She's not likely to want to just go for a drive with Dad anymore.

When I'm with her, I feel like she's safer, like if a car careens out of control in our direction, I can somehow do something to stop it from hitting her. But as I sat here today worrying about her driving alone, I realized that there was never anything I could have done to stop that careening car. And there's nothing I can do to stop her from growing up, either.

So I'll leave you with this: Look out for my little girl you guys. I'm sure she'll be looking out for you.


  1. I bet she will still want to go for a drive with you! Those are the best times for good conversations! I know the feeling - good story Robb!

  2. Oh, she will always be your little girl! But I do know the feeling! Growing up hurts---physically and emotionally for all of us! Good story Robb!

  3. I wanted to say, you are great writer. I wrote on your other blog post entry and I wanted to tell you, I wish you wouldn't have deleted your heartfelt piece on the copy desk changes and how you were sadden by it. Those anonymous jerks who wrote in and acted like bullies are not worth it. Don't give them power over your heartfelt blog entry. They tried to ruin your spirit of your blog entry. I really enjoyed your recent blog entry and was sadden to see it deleted. I thought maybe it was because of the anonymous posters who were just being rude and bullies.

    I wanted you to know that you wrote from your heart and that is all that matters. I wish you wouldn't have censored your voice, because your voice matters. you had something to say... you can't always make everyone happy. there will always be someone who is unhappy and so forth, but it was written from your heart and that it is what matters. it meant something because you wrote about it. change is hard. i wish you guys the best. don't let anonymous people get you down. your voice matters! :)