The days go by: Children’s teen-age birthdays hit mom like ton of bricks

When I first began writing this column, I was anxiously, impatiently awaiting the arrival of my second child.

I have to admit that I was hoping very much for a baby girl to join her big brother, though at the time I just knew I wanted this baby to arrive and make a joyful noise unto the world.

That little girl will be turning 16 later this year. And she has most definitely been joyful.

Important dates. When I got my fresh new calendar for this year, I went through and marked important dates as I always do.

When I came to the month of October, I wrote in my son’s birthday, then Caroline’s one week later.

Then I nearly fell off my chair. The realization struck me like a ton of bricks. Cort will be 18 and Caroline will be 16. It simply does not seem possible to me – and I’ve been here every step of every day.

The days go by. I remember when I was her age and I would hear people comment on how fast we all had grown up, I thought it was such malarkey. Those people were so wrong.

Time seemed to have stalled for me as I approached my 16th birthday. I thought it would never get here. I couldn’t wait to drive, to date, to live a real life.

Parental survival. It was shortly after the revelatory moment with the new calendar that I went in search of books at the local library to help me survive this ensuing year.

I have chuckled my way through Cameron’s guidebook (which is subtitled “and other tips from a beleaguered father (not that any of them work”) and have thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t blessed with quintuplets as I once dreamed of having.

Oh, what a fool I was – I could never have survived the worry multiplied by five.

Not ready. The reality of time marching on struck me when Caroline asked, “What am I going to drive when I get my permit?”

I wanted to say, “We’ll look in to a horse and carriage….” I wanted to return to about 1900. I am not ready for this.

On this subject, Cameron writes, “Most states allow teenagers to possess a learner’s permit sometime before the age of 16. A learner’s permit is a legal document that allows a teenager to terrorize a parent without fear of prosecution.”

Humorous approach. He poses the question, “Why do teenage daughters need to learn to drive in the first place? Driving just means they have the capability of going places you don’t want them to go.”

Cameron gives humorous advice on such things as having a meaningful conversation through a slammed door, how to reclaim the family bathroom, how to survive the blow by blow, shriek by shriek process of raising teenagers, an experience he says is similar to “blunt force trauma.”

The opposite. None of this is reflective of my daughter. She is a sweetheart, a joy, an amazingly good girl who will clean the house without being asked, will straighten the pantry or bake a cake or start supper just because it seemed like a good idea.

She is an incredible friend to lots of kids, a social butterfly with a giving heart. She is a gem, and I know it.

What I am worried about is that there are boys out there who know it, too. Somehow, eight simple rules just doesn’t seem like enough. How about 18,000 rules for dating my teenage daughter?

I’ll get started on it right now. I’ll keep you posted.

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

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