With our youngest crossing the threshold of 18, technically we are now parents to two other adults. Learning to say this for us will take a bit of an adjustment period.
This is a new world — one in which the rules of our parenting playbook are changing. We’ve never been the “my way or the highway” or “because I said so” parents, or, fortunately, needed to be. Like most of us, our son and daughter seemed to have a pretty good head on their shoulders even in the face of peer pressure and hormones.
But today we are in a world where our daughter, now a newly minted 18-year old, will be testing the limits of her newfound legal status. No matter what you think — or remember — crossing the threshold and becoming an adult under the law changes things between the ears for the recipient. Admit it, you too were once there also.
My wife and I love and respect our children deeply. We wish for them to become happy and fulfilled in life. We also realize our role is now being increasingly relegated to the sidelines as they make their own decisions in life. And it is just this combination of love and respect that will allow us to let them go — no matter how painful it may be for us. Letting your children make decisions without the benefit of our lifelong experiences to guide them can be scary. But as a parent, we also understand we’ve got to let go for their sake.
Although it seems like yesterday, I remember my daughter uttering the most beautiful words a dad could ever hear when she was 5.
Standing over the first tee of a miniature golf course, a colored golf ball at her feet, our daughter wrestled to hold the full-size putter in her hands.
“Daddy, can you help me?”
I melted right there.
To this day I will occasionally close my eyes and remember the moment — her wispy blonde hair, her radiant blue eyes, and the softness of her voice. The green carpet beneath her feet seemed so vibrant, the sky an electric blue. Yes, this how I remember the moment. Magic can do this to our memories.
Bending down to her, I helped place her hands on the shaft of putter and showed her where to put her feet. And after helping her carefully line up the face of the club, she slapped the ball toward the hole on the other end of the carpet.
The rest of the night became a blur — her slapping at the ball and running down to the other end hoping to outrace it to the other end, laughing all the way.
For my entire life I’ve carried those words and moment close to my heart, occasionally looking back for a taste of that night.
Now she is an adult. What I hope is she’ll always know is that I’ll be there when she needs me, even if it is just to help her line up a putter.
Woolsey is the publisher of the Times-Georgian. You can read more of his columns at www.leonardwoolsey.com.