A major thing happened last night. Two major things actually.
First, J (15) spend 5 hours volunteering at the church carnival without either parent being there. And the world didn't end. Second, I made the decision to let her boyfriend (who was also volunteering) drive her home.
J is my ADHD kid. Brilliant child with a bright future ahead of her - honors classes, dedicated to community service, love of theater, just all around interesting kid. However, every now and then her ADHD rears its ugly head and she makes some rash decisions. So usually, in an event like the carnival one of us sticks around in the background, keeping an eye out for her inner spaz. Only last night it was pouring and we were working on the latest bedroom transformation, so I just left her there. How much trouble can she get in, really? It's our church, for heaven's sake! And everyone knows her, right? So I cut the apron string a smidge. And I think she felt awfully grown up.
The driving part was hard. She didn't ask, but it certainly made my life a little easier, so I made the suggestion. The boyfriend seems very harmless and he had his younger brother with him, so they weren't alone. We live about 4 minutes from church. It requires a left-right-left series of turns to get up the hill and into our neighborhood with a top speed of 35 mph. If it hadn't been dark, she really could have walked. She texted me before they left and twice in the car:
J: We're in the parking lot. Heading out now.
Me: Be safe. Be smart. Wear your seatbelt. Come straight home. I love you.
J: I KNOW Mom.
Me: You don't know. You think you know, but you don't know. SO just listen to me for a change and I will see you in 5 minutes.
J: Okay, Mom.
J: We're on our street.
And then she was home and the boy walked her to the door, chatted with me for a minute (nice kid!), hugged her, and was on his way home.... his mother can deal with the stress of highway driving in the rain.
Clearly she's growing up. Clearly she's dealing with it very well so far. Clearly I'm not the massive, panicked mess I thought I would be (okay, so I was a little worried) about all of these changes.
But now I want her to go to the library's zoo program with us. I let her do all kinds of grown up things last night and watched her handle them extremely well... and part of me immediately wants to force her to do something her 8 year old little brother isn't even very keen on. This growing up process is tough on both of us and I'm not going to force her to go. I remember reading that teens spend a lot of their teen-time making huge leaps toward independence and then immediately retreating back to their childish pre-teen state. I didn't realize parents went through the same process.