Our job is to prepare our kids to live their own lives.
~ Dr. Meg Meeker
My boss gave each of his daughters ropes when they left for college. Yes, actual ropes. Growing up, the analogy of the rope was explained to them this way: As your parents, we’re holding one end of the rope and you’re tied to the other end. When you prove you can make smart decisions and be trustworthy, you will be given more and more rope. If, on the other hand, you lie to us or do something stupid, we’ll pull the rope in leaving you with less slack.
This is where my wife and I find ourselves today – giving our sixteen-year-old girls rope. And it’s really hard. I want so badly to keep them in a protective bubble. I want so badly to make sure they’re safe. I imagine myself as a video game hero, zapping everything that flies in front of them with my astro-blaster as they make their way through life. I want to clear their path. But I know I can’t and I know I shouldn’t try.
Last week, my daughter, Megan called me for help. Her car wouldn’t start and she was stranded outside the restaurant where she works. Everyone else had left. She was alone in a dark parking lot with a dead car. Maybe I was in television news too long, but the ten-minute drive to her was excruciatingly long. Speed limits meant very little to me as I made my way to her, and I prayed that she would be protected until I arrived. When I finally got to her, we Googled the problem and she was on her way within fifteen-minutes. And I thought, I’m not always going to be this close. I’m not always going to be there for her. I swear, when I brought my wife and two perfect baby girls home from the hospital in June of 2000, none of what I’m feeling now was even part of my imagination. I miss worrying about them crawling out of their cribs. I miss worrying about them making their letters backwards or skinning their knees after falling off their scooters. Those worries, now so small, have drifted into the past. Now, I’m holding tightly onto a rope, and I’m reluctantly giving them slack. Eventually, I’ll release it and hand it to them.
It will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and also the greatest.
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