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The Fifty-First Official Friday Night BeerBlog
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The Eighty-Third Official Friday Night BeerBlog
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April 30, 2021 – The fourteenth official Friday Night BeerBlog
When the kids were little and Ian was gaining independence to leave the yard to play with friends, the rule for Cate was that she could go outside alone, but that she could not go past the end of the driveway. It was a good rule. It was easy to follow and set in stone. One day I looked out the front window and there she was, standing as far down the driveway as she could get, yelling at the neighborhood kids as they rode their bikes past the house. Did I mention she was buck naked? I quickly opened the door and requested that she get her butt inside. “Why?!!” she wanted to know. Again I insisted she come in, to which she screamed back at me, “I. Am. In. The. Driveway!”
That girl. Right there. From day one. Following the rules, but finding a way to test them at the same time. Always asking “why” when the answer was “no”. The girl whose cut-out apple was never hanging on the “behavior tree” at the end each day of daycare. So many afternoons spent in the principal’s office for “disrupting her classmates”. The one who had to endure all the emotions of being the only girl not selected for cheerleading squad at tryouts. Losing so many elections and selections, but never afraid to step up and try again and again and again.
That force is finishing college this week and will celebrate with a virtual graduation (thanks COVID – eye-roll) on May 15th. Sometimes I didn’t know if we would get here. Cate is, for all intense purposes, one of a kind. She is the chicken enchilada they bring you when you ordered a steak and salad. The steak dinner is a safe bet, but that enchilada is a kick to your tastebuds.
A week before she was to be “promoted” to 6th grade, Mike and I were called into the principal’s office. The guidance counselor told us, “We don’t think Cate is ready to move on to middle school.” It was true that she had always been “the lightning rod”; the one that got in trouble if someone was to be in trouble. But she was very smart and ultimately bored in school. I had already spent years begging teachers to just give her more work. She needed tasks to complete when the assignments were done. I painted the picture that she was a Family Circus cartoon, never traveling in a straight line. She’ll get there, but she has to forge her own path.
Like many kids, Cate didn’t fit into their “average” child mold. And so they had decided the answer was to hold her back, to break the independent, entrepreneurial, outside the box spirit of this child in hopes to make her like all the other kids. They had had an opportunity to foster and explore this thing, but had missed the chance. We weren’t having it. Even though she drove us crazy at times, that spirit of hers was something I wished I could bottle and sell.
She knew she was different and was made well aware of the social rules to follow in order to fit in throughout her experiences in middle school, high school, and college. But still made the conscious decision to be herself instead. And I say “conscious” decision because she, Mike, and I talked about it at length and her very direct words have always been that she will not be someone else to please someone else.
While a lot of times and experiences have been really hard for Cate, some self-imposed, some not, I wouldn’t trade a second of it for her. Now while I would do anything to protect my baby girl, she learned from the very beginning when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em, when to walk away, and when to run. (Kenny Rogers reference)
She’s going to need all of that more than ever. Having been brought up in helicopter parent bubble does nothing to prepare our children for real life. I’ve been guilty of some overhead fly-bys, and have been known to knock her back into a safe direction here and there, but she has known for a long time that life is hard and not fair all the time. That hard work doesn’t always reap rewards and that sometimes luck is your best friend.
I’ve seen a lot of kids stumble at this phase until they learn who they really are. Real life can be a bitch and all of the problems of school life persist, except at an adult sized level. Every life situation will try to force these young adults into a box that can be controlled. The spirit to be an individual is met with fear of being different. But if we encourage them all along life to be true to who they really are, they will enter this phase with an arsenal of weapons for success.
The next phase starts today for my youngest. I know where she is heading, but I guarantee you she won’t be getting there in a straight line. It’s time to just sit back and watch.
Congratulations and good luck to all you other parents who are getting ready to watch those baby birds leave the nest for college or into the big show. It’s a scary time. But they’ll be fine; I mean, look at you. You survived.
And to Cate: I love you and am so super proud of you. I wish I could take credit, but it’s been all you.
For the podcast version read with Mike where we give a little more insight and stories about the weekend, the link is here: