I suffer from double-vision, apparently.
See there’s this kid I love who keeps getting mail about shit to do as a freshman in college. Holy hell. How does this happen? Wasn’t Elise just crying because she couldn’t ride on my shoulders anymore? She’d intended to do that until she was 16.
Now she’s packing, and I don’t mean heat.
She’s cleaning stuff out and taking placement tests and picking out comforters and warm jackets and has an eye on these super boots. They’re rain boots but also insulated, so they’d safeguard against anything the N.C. mountains can throw at a girl’s feet.
Where do they come up with this? I’m still her dad, though, gosh darn dangit. Before, and after her move-in date.
There’s graduation crap everywhere. Even a third of a cake in the trash, because who could possibly eat all that cake in a week? She can vote and could enlist if she wanted. She could get a tat or actually touch a lottery ticket or donate blood or jump out of a plane.
She could change her name, but probably shouldn’t, because we had to scour an 80s movie to get to her real name.
Where the !@#%! is your helmet?
Holy crap, she can buy fireworks.
Get stuff pierced, or play the craps table. I’m okay with her procuring black cats and betting it all on lucky 13 or even going by Moonbeam Dinklesnorf (not really) but man, when she took off on graduation day on her new bike, without telling me?
Without a !@#$! helmet?
After all the drop-bys and appetizers and cards and gifts, Elise said she’d try her new Schwinn for a spin down the street. Be careful, love. People drive like schmucks in this neighborhood. It’s a Sunday night at dusk. Who knows what can go down?
After a minute, I couldn’t hear her.
She’s not 5. She’s not 25. A girl should tell her dad when she decided to turn the classic handlebars away from the court she lives on and head for busier streets. “Where are you?” I texted. No answer. “Where the hell are you guys?” I texted her sister. Nothing.
What a bad idea, I thought.
When dad imagination runs amok
Who does this? Who lets their inexperienced kid take off on a new bike at twilight in an age when eyes stay on touchscreens and not the road? Dad imagination can run away on more things than Dagwood Sandwiches and baking cupcakes with Barbara Niven.
I drove around in the dark looking for my girls and fixed on my stupidity as a father for not insisting on helmet wearing or drawing a line on the street in sidewalk chalk as I once did and declare “don’t go past this line!” Where were my girls?
Wind-in-your-hair freedom-flavored bliss, you get it when your underwear fit right and your T-shirt is barbecue-sauce-stain-free, and you have no missed spots from shaving.
I first saw pedaling feet when I found her.
I saw bliss. Wind-in-your-hair freedom-flavored bliss. I get it when my underwear fit right and my T-shirt is barbecue sauce free and I have no missed spots from shaving. It’s the kind a smile a girl wears on her first bike, not leading to freshman year in college.
She’s rambling down a residential street under a streetlight smiling and pedaling. That’s my girl. She’s fine. She’s free. I don’t know if she’s looked both ways every single time she crossed a road but I do know she’s good. And happy. I slowed and glared.
Oh, HELL no
I hope she didn’t see that, but I was fuming, too.
Has she ever been allowed to just dart off on a bike at night without a helmet? Hell no. She’ll take placement tests and register for class and get an offer to do something other than study on a Thursday night.
She’s 18, though. Old enough for voting and getting ink and playing the lotto on the same day. She’ll take placement tests and register for class and get an offer to do something other than study on a Thursday night.
She might eat fried food late at night or binge on Gray’s Anatomy.
She might also take copious notes and sign up for a school trip to clean up a river or call me on a Friday and ask if I can come pick her up after class for the weekend. The answer will always be yes. A dad has to trust a girl.
To know that losing her wallet at Kohl’s will mean she’ll carry a purse.
Or that she’ll follow her curiosity or penchant for kindness and experience life in a way I’ll know nothing about. But it will enrich her. And she’ll enrich her new environment. I’ll let her out of my sight, even in the dark, even up the mountain.
It all could happen. And more.
I’ll let her out of my sight, even in the dark, even up the mountain. And I’ll always be a call away. Just around the corner.
[This post by Kelly McKenzie on Just Typikel inspired this post.]