Kids growing up make me feel old



When my daughter went on her first date, I didn’t feel old, just ready to be the stereotypical overprotective dad.

When she started high school I also didn’t feel old, as much as I was nostalgic because she attends the same high school I graduated from.

When she took driver’s training and received her license, I was proud but worried about her as most parents are when their kids start driving. In all honesty, I find myself cringing every time I hear sirens in town and I have to resist the urge to call her and see if she’s OK.

But the other day when my daughter showed me her acceptance letter to the college she wants to attend and then told me she was having her senior pictures done over the weekend, I suddenly felt very old.

My baby is starting her senior year in high school. She may be my oldest child, but to me she is a baby and in just a few days she will start her final year in high school.

I still remember when she would watch the same Disney movie 250 times until I knew every word to every song (I still know “Tiggers are wonderful things”), or how she would spend mornings watching Teletubbies and Barney and how could I forget being awakened at 3 a.m. almost daily because she wanted dad to rock her back to sleep.

Now it’s all about cars, getting ready for college, planning senior photos and thinking about career choices. Suddenly I miss the days when going to the playscape was what she wanted to do, or playing with her Barbie dolls or listening to the Hilary Duff CD in the car over and over again.

My kids are growing up. Heck, my daughter is grown up and my son, at 11, isn’t far behind. Worse, if they’re growing up then I’m growing old. There was a time when even though I saw the gray hairs on my head and could feel the aches and pains in my bones I still didn’t feel old.

But now, when my kids are rapidly on their way to adulthood, it’s just not something I can ignore. I suspect the rest of the next year will be filled with these moments as my daughter gets ready for college and my son is unleashed on middle school.

What’s important, though, is I want both my kids to be happy and succeed in whatever they do. If any of my wisdom (I think I have a little now that I’ve finally grown up) earned in my almost 50 years of life can help them, then I will share it so hopefully they will not find themselves making the same mistakes I’ve made.

And while the next year will be hard for ol’ dad to get through, it will be rewarding to see my daughter spread her wings and fly. As for my boy, I know seeing his sister graduate and go on to college will likely better prepare me for when he reaches that age — but it will also be a reminder to enjoy all the times we have left in his childhood.

They are only young once, so enjoy it while you can.

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