My latest article for Northside Woman ....
I’ve always been the type of person to move along at a fast clip. I can shop for a week’s worth of groceries in 45 minutes, be ready for church in 20, and cut a 5-hour car trip down to 4 by driving in the fast lane.
But in a few weeks, my oldest baby is graduating from elementary school. And she’s craving independence. She wants a timetable for when she can wear makeup, walk alone to a friend’s house, and a dollar amount her dad and I will commit toward buying a car when she turns 16.
Suddenly I’m switching gears. If we can’t come to a full stop, I’d like to get out of the fast lane and take a long, winding country road through this mountainous terrain of my child growing up.
I understand her need for independence. It wasn’t so long ago I was there myself, sneaking eyeliner in my backpack, chatting on the phone well past lights-out, and arguing with my mom about everything because I, obviously, had all the answers.
My advice to my daughter: never think you have all the answers, it only leads to trouble. That, and to SLOW DOWN. Not that growing up is a bad thing, but you usually get lots more days as an adult — and you’ll spend many of those wishing you could return to the simplicity of childhood.
I tell her to appreciate these days when she doesn’t need makeup, because before you know it mascara and lipstick are a must. Otherwise, folks can’t tell if you do, indeed, possess lips and eyelashes. That the day will come when she wants to throw the ringing cell phone out the window, thus negating the issue of a “better data plan.”
That sometimes you want to lose your car keys and just feel the breeze in your hair while riding your bike. That there will come a day when you wish for nothing more than to share an adjoining bathroom with your sister. And the time will come when you wish you could put your parents back in charge of making your decisions. Turns out they know a thing or two.
Waiting for something makes you appreciative when you finally get it. You take care of it and cherish it. I don’t mean material things. A lipstick or pair of earrings can be replaced. But when things come too soon, it’s human nature to raise the stakes. But if you can’t see your value without the designer jeans, or your beauty without the glossy lips, you’ll always be striving for something beyond your reach.
So the next time she asks when she can go with her friends to the movies without a parent, instead of responding “when I have solid proof every criminal on earth is in jail,” I’ll say “all in good time.”
Amy M. Dawson is an Atlanta-based writer who wrote this article in a record 32 minutes, but edited it for 2 days. Visit her at amymacwrites.com.