My son drove himself and my daughter up to my mother’s house last Sunday. It’s a 45-minute drive with no traffic. He has to travel the full length of the west highway Autobahn to and fro.
He’s a fine driver. As is the case with most parents of new drivers, I’m less worried about his driving and more worried about everyone else on the road with him and how they drive.
Watching the two of them with their sunglasses on getting ready to leave, two things dawned on me.
First, my wife and I have done a really good job preparing our children to be decent adults. Through some stroke of dumb luck, we have done a really good job raising them, if I say so myself.
The second thing to dawn on me, sadly, is we have done nothing to prepare ourselves for our children being adults of any kind. They are our babies, even though one is bigger than me and both of them are smarter.
For each kid you have, you get five or six “Doughnuts with Dad.” You get a Field Day each year. I’m not counting end-of-year award shows because I still contend no one wants to be at those, the parents or the kids.
You can go eat lunch with them as often as you like. The bad news with school lunch is there are no schools my kids have ever gone to that serve the orange octagon pizza I ate every day for four years back in the ‘90s.
The good news for going to lunch with your kid at school is, if you have a daughter, you can “mean mug” every boy in the lunchroom and practice the “Crazy Dad eyes” you will be using later for her first date, when she is 40.
Once they hit middle school, you’re lucky if they aren’t wearing a mask when they are riding in the car with you to protect their identity.
My son and I were riding in front of Newnan High one day, years ago, with the windows down and a Willie Nelson song turned up. As we got directly in front of the school, he leaned over and turned the radio down.
I threatened to ride around the school with the radio full blast if he ever turned down a Willie song again, but he wasn’t buying it. Even at a young age, he knew the area around Newnan High is way too crowded that time of day to ever drive past it more than absolutely necessary.
There were times in my children’s earlier years when my stupidity and selfishness made me miss out on memories I could have made. Memories I should have made.
You will always remember the memories you didn’t make. You remember unmade memories much more than the memories you did make. If that sentence doesn’t make sense to you then you probably played your cards a lot better than I did. It does make sense to me, unfortunately.
If it’s Doughnuts with Dad or Muffins with Mom and you can be there, be there. If you can stop by Field Day just long enough to watch a race, stop by. You only get so many chances to make those memories.
And while you’re busy making sure you are raising your kids to be decent adults don’t forget to remind yourself once in a while that in the blink of an eye you will be the parents of those decent adults.
While they are out being decent adults you will be sitting in a house a lot quieter than you ever remember it being. All you will have, between phone calls and visits, are memories. The memories you made and the memories you could have made.
(Toby Nix is a writer, guitarist and deputy sheriff living in Newnan.)