I spent a month with my teenager last week. While his mother was away, the two of us soldiered along, stuck in the rut that is the day-to-day existence for those who have to get up and attend or teach school. A place where comings and goings are marked by the sound of bells. A place where you need a written excuse to be somewhere other than your assigned place. That was the easy part. The hard part was transitioning to those spots.
Most mornings I don't think much about my trip to school. My son's voyage by bus generally falls under his concern, and when things get mixed up, they fall into my wife's purveyance. If the six-fifty-seven rolls on by or never comes, my son is stuck. I know that if I keep pedaling I will eventually make it to school, but the hike from our house to his high school is a little more extreme. That's why the first time I heard that he had caught a ride with a couple of our neighbors' sons I felt relief. Nice to know that there is a village looking after us after all.
It wasn't until I started reflecting on my own teenaged driving habits that I had a twinge. I have nothing but trust and faith in the skills of my son's carpool buddy. He's a responsible kid with good grades and a father that wouldn't accept anything but best practices behind the wheel. He's also a kid. Seventeen. I shuddered again when I thought about my own driving record at that age. Suddenly, waiting for that next bus and taking a tardy for first period didn't seem like a terrible option.
Then, just as quickly as it came, that bad feeling left. Why should I trust a bus driver whom I have never met any more than the kid who drives a convertible bug and lives just around the corner? The hardest part of the whole single-parent thing for me was knowing when to let go. When I have my wife around, I know that there is always someone there to catch him on the next swing, if our lives can be compared to a trapeze act. I get nervous when there isn't a fail-safe system in place.
But then again, that's what I'm raising: my own personal fail-safe system, and he's coming along just fine.