Learning to let go of the wheel

It’s a difficult road from being the dad of a teenage girl to becoming the friend/dad of a young woman.  My desire to protect her and save her too often gets in the way of my desire that she discover for herself who she is becoming.  I regularly forget that she no longer needs me to remind her to fasten her safety belt or to check the oil; she only needs me to let her get behind the wheel. Truthfully, I have never been very comfortable as a passenger on any journey.

Unfortunately, the subtleties of this changing landscape elude me and my navigational skills are proving to be of limited use when I am no longer at the wheel.  In fact, the view from the back seat is much different, and my ability to successfully provide guidance, direction, and support is seemingly lost somewhere in this translation.  It probably doesn’t help that I’m prone to yell, “car…Car….CAR!!!” when she’s stopped paying attention instead of simply encouraging her to keep her eyes on the road ahead.

As hard as it is to do, I know that I need to let her navigate for herself, and acknowledge to myself that a backseat driver really doesn’t make the road any safer.  I often forget that the noise from the back seat makes it harder for the driver to concentrate on the road ahead.  I so clearly fail to recognize when her actions represent, “I will turn this car around, mister!” even when she’s not entirely comfortable saying those words.  Whether she says them or not, I do understand that I am only a passenger on this new journey at the driver’s request.

She is becoming a good driver. I am so very proud of her and her initiative in mapping out the path ahead.  While she may choose different roads on this journey than I would have chosen, this is her journey, and I am confident that she will get to the destination of her choosing.  She has her own GPS device now, and I suppose I should be comforted that it may be powered, in some very small part, by a few simple maps she downloaded from me.

It just doesn’t make it any easier to let go of the wheel

—-

So I will dance with Cinderella

While she is here in my arms

‘Cause I know something the prince never knew

Oh, I will dance with Cinderella

I don’t want to miss even one song

‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight

And she’ll be gone

~Steven Curtis Chapman, Cinderella

 

Photo Credit: Holding Daddy’s Hand by Roger’s Wife

About the author

David Harkins

It’s A Process features the personal essays, fiction, and poetry of David Harkins, who endeavors to make sense of the chaos around him through the thoughtful telling of stories in what he hopes to be an engaging and sometimes humorous manner. Don’t count too much on the latter, though.

Except where noted, the photos used on this site are © David L. Harkins.

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