My son just drove away. In my car. Alone. The dog looked back toward the house, from his spot in the yard (he’d been hoping for a walk, but the boy had other plans), with that quiet, baffled, “Hey, guys?” look on his ever-concerned Golden Retriever face.
I think he was more worried about why Noah didn’t have Mom or Dad with him than upset that he’d been left behind.
It was a first for us all.
Noah turned 16 years old this week, and, like a dog with a bone, he’d had his eye on the prize. His license.
We arrived at the DMV in Aurora for his road test on his birthday, before they even opened the doors. “Makes you not want to speed,” Noah said, when he saw the lines beginning to form. We took our seats in the waiting room.
Soon, it was his turn to have his documents inspected. Beside us conversing with another clerk was a young man who’d hoped to renew his license.
“Your license is suspended until September,” she said, as she proceeded to remind him of the number of moving violations he’d racked up. I felt him deflate. Consequences are necessary, but still, tough stuff. I silently thanked him. His disappointment was not a bad thing for a new driver to witness, after all. We’re all unwitting players in a play, no?
A few hours after Noah passed his road test, after we’d dispensed with breakfast at Daddio’s – and cake and candles and wishes and gifts – Noah asked if he could head over to Gander Mountain to buy a certain new rod and reel with his birthday money.
“Alone?” I asked, grinning.
“Yup!” he said. A little while later, the phone rang. My heart did a little flip. It was Noah.
“Yeah?” Turns out it was nothing to worry about. I exhaled. Thank God. Wonder when I’ll stop worrying every time the phone rings?
After he’d asked if he could take the car that first time, and then jogged down the stairs to go in search of my keys, and after I returned to my desk to write this column, it dawned on me that I’d want to SEE this thing happen, to enjoy this milestone. I scrambled out of my chair and sprinted to his bedroom window, which overlooks the driveway, just in time to see Jake glance worriedly back at the house and our boy back the car into the street. How dear is this dog? How dear is this boy? Mere words cannot express what this moment is like for a parent. Thank God I was there, though, at that window, because a moment later my firstborn paused as he shifted the car into drive. He glanced up and, finally spotting me at his window, smiled and then waved goodbye.
• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at email@example.com.