For as long as I can remember, I have spoken these words to my children:
I loveth you.
Tonight, as my beautiful sixteen year old daughter took the keys from my hand and prepared to walk alone out the door for the first time in her life, she was first: I loveth you.
Decisively — “I’ll call you when I get there,” as I thought, “Wasn’t I supposed to request that?” Then a bit nervously, “Oh. I forgot my train of thought.”
I think you were going to say good-bye. And I was going to pray this isn’t the last time I ever see you.
Everyone thinks things like this. We say them.
She laughed. “It’s not. I’ll see you tonight. I know who has the right-of-way, I’ll drive slow, and I’ll call when I’m leaving.”
She does not, emphatically does not, know who has the right-of-way.
Just today, I shrieked loudly enough to strain the cords, “Good God Almighty, you almost killed us!” when she had the right-of-way and yet insisted on waving on those cars without the elusive right-of-way. The ensuing creep forward / brake dance was not without frustration — writ large on the truck lady’s face to our left.
That was this morning. This afternoon she passed her written driving exam; the last step to freedom. That child missed none on the test. (Kevin later said “She is a serious underachiever.” Capable, yet largely unmotivated, we muse.)
As she drove us home, we laugh. Humor is a huge part of our relationship. She teased me about P.G. Wodehouse’s “Right Ho, Jeeves!” driving me to laughter at the DMV. I teased her about listening to Big and Rich with me.
“No, I am not listening to Big and Rich. Their last song used the word ‘ass’ over and over. How can one song have the word ‘ass’ in it so many times? Some day, that is going to come out of my mouth and I am going to be so embarrassed. I have never cursed you know.”
I know. And if it does come out, you just have to look appropriately shocked and your hand must fly to your mouth. That’s how it’s done.
“Yours doesn’t. You don’t even look appropriately shocked. You always look like you mean it. And might continue.”
She’s a beautiful daughter. Fiery yet fairly responsible. Stubborn yet somewhat teachable. Devoted to her family. Driving our town alone tonight.