Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Have Wheels, Will Travel

I remember when my first-born son got his first set of wheels. It was a black truck that he got for a Christmas present. It took him to far away, exotic places like the End of our Driveway and the Next Door Neighbor's House. I could handle him taking off in that truck because I never left his side, as this truck was mom-powered. I spent many hours pushing him around town and had the aching back to prove it.

As he got a little older, he explored a little further - going down the street, sometimes around the corner. Now and then, he'd carry cargo like action figures, Matchbox cars, a jelly sandwich, or a sibling. The truck was converted from mom power to toddler power. I can still see him driving that truck down the sidewalk, his little toddler legs powering the vehicle at breathtaking speeds of .5 mph.

He went off on his own and met neighbors. He stopped along the way and explored, picking dandelions and collecting rocks and sticks. He sometimes stopped at a friend's house and let her have a turn with the truck. Always, he came back home after his little adventure, happy to share his stories of what he'd done and seen along the way. And I'd listen to his tales and admire the treasures (spiders, wood chips, cigarette butts, and handfuls of grass) he'd found along the route, smiling at my little child who was starting to pull away from me and figure out who he was on his own. I knew it was a normal milestone. He was investigating his environment, learning from all he saw and experienced. It was a good thing for a toddler/preschooler to do.

That same child just bought his first set of wheels that actually has an engine. And it will take him much farther than our driveway or the neighbor's front yard. It will take him wherever he wants to go. It will open new worlds to him. It will present him with choices and opportunities. And I won't be there behind him, pushing him on. He'll be on his own.

Now that he has a car, he has a new level of freedom and I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, he's 18 years old, it's time that he break away and have freedom. If he was away at college, I wouldn't be there to monitor his every move. He'd essentially be on his own. He wouldn't have to ask permission to go to the mall or the movies or to hang out with friends. He'd have to make those decisions on his own. Since he's living at home while going to school, however, it's a little different. I sometimes forget he's 18. I sometimes look at him like he's that same little kid in the plastic, foot-powered truck, toddling down the driveway. I maybe, sort of, want to hang onto him and not let him go anywhere because he's my baby and I can't protect him if he's not by my side.

So we're finding a balance of freedom and consideration. Although I have no problem with him taking off to go to the store when he feels like it, and I don't feel like he needs my explicit permission to do every little thing, he is still living in this house and common courtesy dictates that he check in with me and confirm plans before leaving. I want to let him go, yet being a single mom to 6 kids, I sometimes still need him to help out. It's a balancing act and we're figuring it out as we go.

Much like his first Little Tikes truck, this car will take him new places. It will take him to college and a job. It will take him to the store and on dates with his girlfriend. One day, it  might even take him to his own wedding. It's conceivable that it could take him to the hospital where he'll bring home his own newborn baby who will grow up and drive a toddler-powered truck down his driveway one day. He'll explore and discover new things along the way. He'll collect items (probably not sticks, rocks, and worms anymore) and memories. And it's all good. That's the way it should be. 


Sarah said...

Wow. Very emotional journey you're on right now, no doubt. What a milestone! Here's hoping all goes well and the new boundaries you're having to set with your young adult will go well for all of you! :)

spicydish said...

And one day he will drive off in his car and meet a girl, and she will be "it", and when he enters a room he will go to her and not to you - and you'll know that is the way it should be...... and how come
your heart is so happy that he found someone and at the same time feels like it is shattering into a million pieces?

Brett Neumann said...

As a parent to an 18 year old myself, I can say we are all trying to figure out the optimum balance of freedom and protection. Good luck on your quest in this endeavor.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to this so much! When my son got his first set of wheels and was still living at home, I never actually went to sleep until I heard the car turning into the driveway.

He never knew, but it made me feel better.

Kristin of course said...

Very nice. Going through that here at my house. She's 19. And it is that courtesy call that we argue about.

New Life and Attitude said...

As the "parent figure" to my 19 year old niece and 17 year old nephew I can understand. From everything that I have read from when you started blogging (I have been stalking you since the Pokemon days) I think you have raised some great kids and while you will always worry about them - I don't think you have anything to "worry about". They all seem to have very good heads on their shoulders (well Jackson and Clayton can be questionable at times - LOL)!

Sharlyn said...

I have an 18 year old going on 40. :-P. it's a bittersweet journey isn't it? Great post!

AlaneM said...

Absolutely beautiful Dawn.

kimikki said...

Been there, done that. My child is a girl, though. I went through the "letting go" thing, and it has, so far, been a great thing. She went from driving to her own job, to visiting with a boy (I knew him, it was okay), to graduating early from school, to moving away. She is now married (just celebrated 8 years yesterday), has two terrific kids of her own, and is a successful wife, mother, and she has a career many should envy. I am in constant awe of how she can balance the three levels in her life.
Each "letting go' step is like watching them take their first steps -- you want them to succeed, yet you don't want them to let go of your hand. It was very hard for me to let go, but she has amazed me on every turn, and shown me that raising a child on my own wasn't such a bad thing, as I was told it would be.

ChrisJFreeze said...

Way to make me cry. ;) I'm one year behind you, but as we all know, that's a blink of an eye. Why does it all go by so quickly when there were days I thought I'd never make it through? Well I did, and I do miss it. But I try to remember some wise council I once received: the best is yet to come! Thanks for letting me watch your family grow up along side mine. Even though we are total strangers, I feel like we're old friends.

Mark said...

Well,Baby Sister: Once again I am awestruck by your God-given talents. Your last offering was beyond exceptional and great. Thank You.

Mark in MASS

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