Over the years, I've created many elaborate romantic adventures and even wrote books on romance and relationships. So, everyone wants to know how I proposed to Mary, and I have to tell them that I never did.
Mary and I will have been married 25 years in 2017, and we knew very early on in our marriage that we'd renew our vows that year. So, about three years ago I came up with a plan, to finally propose to Mary for our second wedding, and I'd go big...with a flashmob.
There would be hidden cameras, an embarrassing scenario, a drummer, music, dancing, and of course a heartfelt speech that would lead to the long-awaited proposal.
I enlisted the help of my then-16-year old daughter, Riley. She said she would do whatever I needed to get this done. So, her jobs included choreographing the dance, finding dancers, setting up one of the hidden cameras, editing the video, and being the go-to person two hours before the event at the flashmob location in order to work out the final details... a lot for a teen to do.
My daughter is fully capable. She's incredibly smart. She runs her own business. Has a GPA over 4.0. She's responsible. Doesn't drink (that I know of). Gets her homework done. Etc...
Yet, she really struggled making sure her ducks were in a row for this event, even after I gave her step-by-step instructions. At one point, after setting the date and getting all the key players in order, she told me she had to change the date because she'd be away during that time for a trip with her friend's family. HUGE NIGHTMARE! I had to start back at square one and reschedule everything (turned out she didn't go on the trip).
As it came down to the wire, the thirty dancers she contacted (15 of which she knew would show up) became two dancers. The rest weren't doing it.
My frustration? These things could have been avoided had she thought like I do. And, that's where I am torn, not because she's not me, but because should I really have expected her to take on adult-level responsibilities? She's as tall as an adult. She drives a car like an adult. She earns her own money like an adult. But, her brain is still not fully developed, I have learned (this whole pre-frontal cortex thing).
She has difficulty seeing the Big Picture, understanding the possible obstacles in a path, and planning now for tomorrow. She lives in the moment, and everything will work out one way or another, in her mind. In her mind my concerns are unwarranted. I'm just an old man who worries too much, but I know I'm actually an old man who has experienced 30 more years than she, and know what to expect when you don't know what to expect.
I wondered if this was just a Riley-thing. She's been so very successful in life. Things seem to come easily to her. So, when I asked her to help, did she think that it would all just work out, because so much of her life seems to go this way? Or, is this a teen-thing? Do most teens just worry about their immediate concerns and put off future plans thinking I'll get to it later?
She didn't pull it off as well as I would have wanted. I was very stressed. But, did I ask too much of her? Did I expect too much from my teen daughter?
As it turned out, we got a handful of dancers and the flashmob and proposal was a huge success after all (you can see it above). But, now I look at my daughter through a different lens. I love her to death, but I question her responsibility. What do you think?