Yesterday, Darling Daughter turned 15.
Today, she got her driver’s permit.
She’s stretching her wings, while I’d prefer to snugly swaddle her once again in the sweet pink jersey blanket her grandmother bought when she was born and which is, even now, tucked under the pillow on her queen-sized bed. She’s ready to take flight, while I’m reminiscing about her very first self-assured steps across the hardwood floor of our family room.
As the two of us leave the surprisingly uncrowded and pleasant DMV office, I’m worried – near frantic. I realize I’m not done with her yet. There’s still so much I want her to know – so much I want to teach, so much I want to share.
But Darling Daughter is already a teenager. I know less and less about the daily details of her life. Does she have a French test this week? Does she like her English teacher? Did she eat all of her lunch today? Does her backpack need to be cleaned out? Is she out of deodorant? Are her socks too small?
Beats me. She handles all that on her own – quietly, gracefully, uneventfully.
She’s taller than me, she’s stronger than me, she bristles at my parenting style. But I’m not done.
I haven’t yet taught her to shake a little cayenne pepper into chocolate cake batter and a little salt into chocolate frosting.
I haven’t yet revealed that guys are impressed with a girl who knows how to drive a boat. And that it doesn’t matter what guys think.
She doesn’t yet know that she’s smarter than she thinks and more capable that she realizes. I haven’t made it clear that she can do oh-so-much more; but that she doesn’t have to do anything more for me. She's funny, she's insightful, she's wise. She is control of her own happiness, her own joy.
As we drive back to school, freshly-minted driver’s permit on the backseat, I know she has no idea of the blessings and pride she brings into my life. And then, abruptly, she asks, “Are those chickens?” I squint at the 18-wheeler five or six car lengths ahead of us. “I don’t think so. I think they are turkeys.”
And sure enough, we find ourselves at 50 miles an hour, trailing a truckload of turkeys, headed to the next, um, “exit.” “OMG. What is he doing?,” Darling Daughter squeals, “Is he peeing?”
And sure enough, one of the turkeys empties out enough urine to make a racehorse prance with pride. But not on our Honda Pilot. We smoothly change lanes, as the Jeep Cherokee beside us is christened with poultry urine.
Always look ahead. Lesson number one for Darling Daughter’s 15th year.
Assuming I can share a lesson-a-day with her this year, that’s three hundred and sixty-four to go.
Happy birthday, Julia Wiles. I hope you can bear with me. I still have a lot to share. And from you, I still have a lot to learn.
No new recipe today, as we celebrated the birthday girl's special day with dinner out and her favorite Chocolate-Chocolate-Chocolate Cake. Just click to find the recipe. And be sure to sprinkle a little cayenne in the batter and salt in the frosting.