Saturday, July 24, 2010

Protective Dad

We drove across the state as the sun went down. I drove the whole way in spite of the plan to allow my daughter to drive, so she would get used to finding her way through Oklahoma City. OKC is one of the largest cities in the nation in land mass and has some pretty dangerous driving where I-40 meets I-35. But it was about dark and there was no reason to take chances with my little girl at this stage of the game. Therefore I drove.

The next morning the college made the parents go to a different orientation session than the children, even though I felt I should be there when she enrolled in her classes. I do have a Master's Degree in Education and have spent more than a few hours deciding the best courses a person should take, but for some reason the college wouldn't allow that. I can only assume I will have to make corrections later.

The presentation is predictable and boring. I take care of business on my Blackberry that ranges from checking on the site-visit back at the office to dealing with the local bank. Then the Dean of Students took the stage.

I don't remember her name, she referred to herself as "Dean." She showed interest in the students on the stage and even the equipment they used in the presentation. Then she turned to face the assembled parents and with a look of concern asked how many were there with their first child?

Suddenly overcome with a wave of emotion at the "loss" of my baby girl that I have cherished and helicoptered around for the past two decades, I raised my hand with eyes brimming with tears. Be a freakin man, you big wuss! I silently screamed to myself as I struggled to NOT wipe away the drops welling around my lower eyelids. I glanced around nervously and saw there were a few other parents (yes, mostly the moms) who were openly weeping.

The Dean nodded her head as she surveyed the room, like she had seen this several times in her career. "Now," she said. "How many of you are here with your last child...?"

The room erupted into cheers and whoops of joy. An aged and broken looking couple even got up and began a little dance of joy. "Well you people need to stop trying to push those poor kids out of the house already! Sheesh! They know you intend to turn their rooms into the guest room or game room or whatever you plan... they know because some of you already have them sleeping in the laundry room! Quit it! They will be gone soon enough but they are NOT feeling the love at home, so scale back for a little bit longer."

Then she focused on first group of parents who went from tears of loss to amazement and shock at the other parents. "And you first timers take note... you need to let go. Your child will be fine. We have a long history of taking your life's work and turning them into the adults you always hoped they would become. Trust them and trust us... and back off!"

So now, a few days later I am reliving the words in my head and I can see maybe I was holding on a little too tight. I let her drive home.... well up to Oklahoma City and and then after we got through Oklahoma City. I griped and yelled and cussed at her so she would pay attention and stop texting and watch the road and the traffic. "This is important!" I told her as I dodged a semi moving into our lane without warning. "You will be making this trip all by yourself in two weeks when school starts. You are an adult now and you will have to do this on your own from now on."

Is it wrong that I only made sure she learned how to drive through Oklahoma City on the way back home? Maybe she will use that knowledge before Thanksgiving... you think?

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