Hey, Kid 1… Today You’re 20!

Hey baby girl, I wanted to write something that best describes what I think of you and how I feel about you but I’m really tired. So, instead of coming up with something new, I thought I’d just resend you the letter I wrote about you earlier this year (I had to tweak it a bit)…

I was asked to write a little something about you that could be “funny, embarrassing, sweet, or charming.” Of course, the first thing that popped out for me, was embarrassing. I brought it down to the top 10 stories but then I thought that just might be too much. So I narrowed it even more to 3. As I mulled over how I would word it, conviction got the best of me and I decided to spare you (and everyone reading this) the details. But rest assured, I have many stories that are ready to go when you make it big in the world and ‘accidentally’ delete my number from your cell phone; which I, probably,will still be paying.

So, instead of an embarrassing story, how about I go with a funny one? How about the story about the first time I let you drive me around near the lakefront?

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It started off ok. I sat next to you, watching my baby girl behind the wheel, trying not to get emotional. There you were all grown, checking the mirrors, adjusting your seat and, of course, scanning the radio for your signature song of that year, California Girls. It had been 20 minutes since it had played on B-96 so, obviously, it was about time for it to be played again. 

You were correct in your timing. 

Naturally, you blasted the radio. Naturally, I lowered it way down. Naturally, you gave me dirty look. 

I let it slide only because I was having a moment. 

I buckled my seat-belt and told you to start the car— sidenote: meanwhile, your brother sat in the back middle seat where he managed to strap himself into two of the three seat-belts.

You drove out of the zoo parking lot just fine. You maintained the proper speed limit and you didn’t swerve too far to the left or the right. You had both hands on the steering-wheel and I watched as you’d periodically check the rear-view mirror and the side mirrors. 

Yep, I was a proud momma bear. 

You drove peacefully along and then stopped ever so diligently just before the pedestrian walkway as the yellow signal light turned red. I remember how you looked over at me beaming with pride and confidence. Your smile said it all…. “I got this.” 

All was fine with the world. That is, until the light turned green and you realized that all traffic had to turn left; even the cars in the right lane, which is where our car was sitting

What happened next comes in bursts.

You started to ease into the turn just fine. And then the cabby to our left got a wee, bit too close as he made his turn. I saw your hands grip the steering wheel tighter and your body instantly tensed up. You steered to the right a bit too quickly as you pushed down on the accelerator a little too hard and the car jerked forward straight towards the illegally parked car about 6 feet in front of us.  

We both screamed (at least, I think it was you and me… it may have been me and your brother).

It wasn’t until you started to hit the brakes that we all noticed the guy on the bike to the right of us. That’s when you abruptly steered left and instinctively accelerated. I felt my seat-belt lock and I caught a glimpse of your brother’s arms flailing back and forth through the visor mirror. It was like we were all moving in slow-motion… on a boat… in the middle of a thunderstorm.

By the time I realized what was happening, the cabbie was just far enough ahead of us that somehow you managed to miss hitting his car… and the illegally parked car to the right… and the biker, by weaving in and out and then back into our lane again in less than 3.2 seconds. 

It was like poetry in motion. 

For the record, I appreciate poetry much more in writing form.

It’s a moment in time that will FOREVER be etched in my memory; no matter how much therapy I’ve gotten since then. And if I’ve learned nothing else from that experience, I learned this: you my dear love, do in fact, “got this.”

For 20 years, I’ve watch you start, stop, weave, turn and maneuver your way to where you are today and to who you’ve become today. You’ve had your near misses but– with lots and lots and lots of prayer and many, many long talks, and a few scoldings, and a few more crying fits of anger, and even more crying tears of joy, and sometimes just crying silently laying next to me just because you needed to– you have managed to see the clearing just before the crash. 

I am in awe of who you are and I look forward to the woman you will become. 

Proud does not even begin to describe my sentiments when I think of you and your accomplishments. And the word love is not enough to describe the depth of how and what I feel for you. 

You are, bar none, one of the three things I’ll ever do superbly in this lifetime (in case you’re wondering, the other two are your brother and guacamole).

Happy 20th birthday, kid 1!!!

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