I have always told my daughters, “stay a kid, as long as you can.” I had my reasons. My greatest accomplishment in my life, has been being father to my daughters. And though I have gotten better at it in recent years, I still try to resist the fact that my daughters have grown up, that soon, they will be making their own decisions, leading their own lives. Of course, there is this want, to protect them, and as an adult, on their own, that will become more difficult.
In the song “Turn Around,” by Kenny Loggins, he sings, “Where are you going my little one, little one
Where are you going my baby, my own? Turn around and you’re two. Turn around and you’re four.
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of the door.” I will skip the next verse, as it deals with the next phase of adulthood. The song is short in length and time. Ironic. It has been 18 years for my older daughter, and 16 years for my younger daughter. And yet, I want to say, our time as father and daughters, has been short in length and time. Definitely has gone by too fast.
The other reason I always told them to “slow down growing older so quickly,” they would have the rest of their lives to grow up, and be an adult, with adult responsibilities, and much less time to have the care-free time that a child gets to enjoy.
I resisted the urge to push them to get jobs as teenagers. There was plenty of time for them to work. I definitely did not want employment to interfere with their schooling and homework. Sure, there was a social benefit as well as learning responsibility to have a part time job. But there had to be balance. I also knew, that as they would enter high school, outreach activities and school clubs would also play a role in their futures when it came to references. These last three years have been brutal trying to squeeze everything in, while allowing them to remain “kids.”
This past Christmas, I said to my older daughter, who is in her final year of high school, “I can’t believe this is your last semester of High School. You know these next five months are going to fly by.” Boy have they ever. And that concept of why I wanted her to stay a kid as long as she could? She now understands why I said that.
Applications to college were one thing. And once she did her first one, the others were easy and quick for her. Her testing had been completed, and her grades have never been better. As she plans for her upcoming Fall, she knows that she needs some help in the form of scholarships and grants. She has quickly learned that some are quite simple, and others require a lot of time and thought. And she must do this all the while finishing high school, and working her part time job. Again I have said to her, “remember, I told you to stay a kid as long as you could. There would always be time to be an adult.”
Her graduation is a little more than a month and a half. And while the time has flown quickly for my daughter, the clock is moving even quicker for me. Right now, as her father, while she is still in high school, I can still see all the wonderful things that she creates, the homework that she completes, the grades that she earns. And if you have followed me long enough, you know I could not be more proud of my daughters.
I have reached a “milestone” I will call it with my older daughter. I no longer “share” things she does without her permission, a right she has as an adult. As a child, there was no stopping me from beaming with pride the many art projects she did. And recently, I have discovered, she is an excellent writer. Unlike me, she can actually write poetry. Two of her most recent writings have brought me to tears because of how deep and thoughtful her words were.
And then something hit me even harder. Soon, my access to her studies will end. I had what I did because the school district had the parents involved, but in college, she is in full control of her education. All I can do is hope that she will share the many projects, the grades, and the recognitions with me. While many around me say “of course she will.” Me? I am not so sure as she has already developed a “personality” when it comes to her work, very critical of herself and her abilities. She does not want things seen, if they do not meet her expectations, regardless if completed or not.
I have done my best to instill confidence in both of my daughters. They are both capable of so much, attention to detail, determination, and enjoyment. Time is now moving way too quickly. I know I am going to be a mess when I see them both in their caps and gowns. Round one coming very soon.