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A License to Feel Old

husband, father, tech enthusiast
Another milestone of growing up and growing old.

Today was a big day. Not just for my 16-year-old twin girls, but for me as well. After about a year of driving practice that included some yelling, a few tears, and many tire-marked curbs, their mom and I took them to the DMV to get their driver’s licenses.

First, let me start with a question for the DMV: Why have people make an appointment for a driving test if you still have to wait in the long ass line? You silly, silly assholes. Anyway, after about 2.5 hours in purgatory, they both easily passed their road test, and became licensed drivers. Per usual, the DMV computer system for printing licenses was down, so the girls were given temporary paper licenses until their permanent copies are mailed to them. A couple of hours later, their mom brought them to my house to pick up their car I got them, and they took their first solo trip, up I-81, back to their mom’s house. I stood in the foyer, watching through the window as they pulled away (after taking a couple selfies). I stood there for another minute after they were gone, just thinking about how young and innocent they both still seem in my eyes.

No matter how ready you are for your kids to take this step, you’re never really ready. No matter how much practice they have, no matter how much confidence you have in their abilities, this is a scary time for a parent. Driving is dangerous, there’s no way around that. Flying down the highway at 70+ MPH alongside an Amazon truck carrying a thousand pounds of Crocs and Stanley cups (seriously, these are two of the highest selling items on Amazon) will never be truly safe, no matter how careful you are.

Then there’s the independence aspect. Sure, they’ve been able to date people, hang out with friends, and join school activities on their own for a while now, but they’ve always needed us to take them there. This allowed us to be a little more involved by default, whether they liked it or not. Now they can come and go as they please (with permission), moving us ever so slightly further out of the process.

I have to say, we are lucky to have great kids. To our credit, we’ve done a good job parenting them and teaching them how to be good people in this world, and to theirs, it wasn’t difficult. They are just naturally thoughtful, caring, and compassionate individuals. I remember when I first took one of them out on the road. She sat behind the wheel, paused for a moment, and said “This is a lot of responsibility”. I have confidence they will not take this responsibility lightly.

In my experience with kids at my age, their milestones become my milestones. I already turned 40, so there aren’t really any milestones left for me until retirement age. So it’s things like kids starting college, graduating high school, and getting their driver’s license that continue to make me feel older (the back pain and that sound I make when I get up off the couch are also constant reminders). Even though I’ve already got one kid who got her driver’s license 5 years ago and now has only a year of college left, it’s been long enough that it feels fresh again. Plus, these kids are all such different people, it’s always like experiencing it again for the first time. I’m already mentally preparing myself for the youngest one to take this step in 5 years, though I don’t know how much good it will do.

No matter how far away they drive, and how little they might need me, I’ll always be their dad and I’ll always be here when they do.