My oldest granddaughter passed her driver's test this morning and has been duly added to her parents' insurance. She will be driving, probably later today, in the car without one of us in the car with her for the first time.
And once again, we let her go a little more, let her fly a little higher.
We revel in the early first steps, crawling, walking. But even then, we have consequences. There's the trail of debris through the house as we hunt down the new walker. And other life lessons. When this same granddaughter was three something, she giggled and encouraged her little sister to walk just like the rest of us. Right up until same little sister could reach her big sister's previously inviolate crayons on the table.
"Hey!," she yelled, as much shocked as indignant, "she's getting in my stuff!"
By now, she sometimes raids her sister's stuff. So it goes.
I hope she remembers her first drive alone. I don't. I remember the weeks immediately after, but not that solo drive.
I remember her daddy, when he was seven, riding his bike to school the first time. I watched him pedal madly up the drive in his Cub Scout uniform, backpack in place, brown lunch sack swinging from his hand on the handlebars. It was a country town, lightly traveled road, a mile from the school. And my heart was in my throat. And he thrived.
I lived in a small town, too, but surrounded by mountains. My father was upset when he learned I had driven the old family car up and down a 40-degree incline on a mountain road--with cliffs on part of it--one day as part of a summer job I held. He had been meaning to repair the brakes. No problem, I assured him, I just put the car in a lower gear.
And so it goes.
No wonder the thought of guardian angels persists as we see ourselves, and our young ones, survive certain catastrophes over and over again. Catastrophes that, after all, never happen. Maturation and growth automatically opens us to greater risk.
Tonight, we have a family dinner of the bunch of us to celebrate the birthdays of two of us. New beginnings for them, and new beginnings for the new driver among us.
Anticipation of the year ahead and good food. Lots of love. Sounds like a winning combination to me.