She's a nut.
But I love her very much.
With my whole heart, in fact.
She’s our oldest. Our first born. We brought her home from the hospital without a clue in the world how to care for her. Or how to parent her—at all, let alone well.
We’ve made many mistakes along the way, and sometimes we’ve just had to throw up our hands and say, “Sorry. You’re our guinea pig. We don’t know how to do this.”
Over the past 20 years there have been a lot of firsts with her. First to play piano. First to walk to school by herself. First to get a job. First to play a sport and first to quit a sport. First to go to college. . . .
You get the idea.
And with each of those firsts we’ve had to decide how, as her parents, we were going to handle each scenario as it came along. Sometimes the decisions were easy; other times not so much.
Last week, we hit another first, and this was probably the hardest first yet. Because last week, B and I became the guinea pigs, heading into parenting territory yet unknown.
As she and her friends began planning their spring break, Kate asked us if they could borrow
our my van to drive to Florida.
Yes, that’s right. She actually had the NERVE to ask if she could take my van to Florida. My van! To Florida!
Some of you reading might just stop right there and say, “Um, no. Not happening. Not in my lifetime. Find another way to get to Florida.”
But we had a couple of things standing in our way.
First, we had precedent. See, when B was a sophomore in college, he and a friend took his parents’ station wagon to Florida for the week. They drove around, visited his grandparents, hung out on beaches, AND THEY SLEPT IN THE CAR! They went much farther into Florida than our daughter wanted to go, . . . AND THEY SLEPT IN THE CAR!
At least the girls had the good sense to rent a house.
But the second thing we had to consider was our philosophy. I’ve written about it before, but basically we are raising our girls to not need us. I know that sounds terrible to some, foreign to others, and totally frightening to most, but our hope is to train them to be responsible, mature adults who can handle life independently of us. And we’re training ourselves, slowly, along the way, to let go gracefully.
(O.K., forget the gracefully part. That hardly ever happens. But we ARE trying to train ourselves to let go.)
So, taking into account precedent (I blame B’s parents for that one!) and our philosophy, we felt like we couldn’t say no. Well, we could have said no, but then we’d be kind of hypocritical, wouldn’t we?
Of course, there were some in our family who thought that our decision to let our daughter take a 16 hour road trip in our family car was . . . shall we say . . . irresponsible.
And maybe it was.
Maybe if the trip had turned out differently, if something terrible had happened, we would have regretted our decision and called ourselves irresponsible for the rest of our lives. I don’t know. What I do know is that we stayed true to what we believe about our kids: they need to be trusted to make good decisions, to be allowed to explore the world, and to grow up. All without their parents’ constant companionship.
So we became the guinea pigs, making a tough parenting call--one that left us biting our fingernails and checking our phones for most of the week. Thanks be to God, the girls (eight girls in two cars) made the trip safely.
We did entrust them into His care last week, but really, we have to do that every day of their lives, don’t we?
Let's talk. What do you think? Were we irresponsible parents to let our daughter drive to Florida last week? When have you felt like a guinea pig as a parent?