She can't remember to empty the dishes each morning from the dishwasher. Her room's always a mess, and she rarely acknowledges anyone else in the immediate family (me, my wife, and her little sister) unless we are doing something for her, or she has exciting news to tell us.
Yesterday, after practicing her driving skills for months with her driver's permit in her glove box, she finally had her driver's test to obtain her official driver's license. I was prepared for her to pass, bringing with me gift cards I had for frozen yogurt (to celebrate her passing her test) and my camera (no, I don't use a smart phone) to take a photo of her with her holding temporary license in front of the car she/we bought last month.
When she finished her test, she had a sad look on her face, but it seemed too sad, so I knew she was trying to fool us. She'd passed her driver's test! She was now a licensed driver: an exciting, yet scary reality as a parent.
So, I told her we'd celebrate by going out for frozen yogurt. When we got to the shop, I asked her to pose in front of her car with her temporary license for a photo as I had planned. She seemed a bit hesitant at first, but eventually stood by her open car door smiling. As I lifted the camera to my eye, she said, "Please don't post this anywhere."
I was shocked. "What do you mean?"
"No," she responded, "I just don't want you to post it."
It was the last straw for me, and I got upset, didn't take the photo and stormed in to the shop to drown my sorrows in a cup of strawberry fro-yo.
Why had I reacted so childish to her request? I did a bit of self-analyzing afterward and realized that my baby had grown up, but hasn't been the respectful, responsible young lady I had imagined she'd grow up to be. Instead, she was a teenager...not her fault, but I expected more from her. And, when she said she didn't want me to share the photo that I never took, I realized it upset me because that was one of my last parental pleasures... being able to be the doting dad and express my pride in my daughter.
She took that away from me. My wife explained to me, "She's just being a teenager," and, logically I know it. But, if she doesn't need a ride any longer, is going off to college in a year, doesn't seem to listen or participate in conversations with the family, goes out to eat with her friends, neglects her chores, misses family activities, and now won't let me even express my pride in her accomplishments, what do I have left as a dad: punishments, consequences, rules, the negative stuff? Is that what I do for the last year of her living at home?
I don't want that. I may be selfish, but I want to stay connected with my daughter, and I want to be able to show the world that she passed her driving test on the first try.
image courtesy of @morguefile.com/anitapeppers