Zach, being our oldest, is the one who will be subject to the most stringent of our rules. He sees it. He knows it but it doesn't make it any easier.
Stan is also the oldest and the rules for him have been vastly different than they have for his brothers. I've seen it first hand. When Stan and I first started dating and then got engaged we were required to sleep in separate bedrooms when visiting his family. We didn't want to create the any sense of improper moral behavior and set a wrong example for his younger brothers. Since then, the rules have changed for the younger brothers. It's just easier to let couples, married or not, share a room. Rules are different going down to the younger siblings.
I just have to wonder how much different they will be going down the line for our kiddos...
Zach's 16th birthday is Saturday and as part of his day he is asking us to go to the UVA Lacrosse game in Charlottesville. I know how much he loves lacrosse and watching UVA games is a quite an experience. His plan sounded great until I asked the one question that was begging to be asked. "Who is driving?" His response was "Scott." Scott is one of Zach's best buddies. He's a great kid, from a good family, gets good grades and stays out of trouble. But he's a brand new driver. He just got his driver's license a couple of weeks ago. Here in the commonwealth of Virginia kids have to be 16 years and 3 months before they are licensed to drive without an adult in the car and Scott just reached that milestone. Zach has three months to go before he is fully licensed and he is asking us to let him go, on his 16th birthday, to a lacrosse game in a city 45 minutes from home, through the mountains with a newly licensed driver.
I truly don't know how I feel about all of this. Freedom beckons these kids, as it called to all of us when were trying so hard to grow into young adults. I remember the first time I held the keys to my very first car in my hand. I couldn't wait to go. It didn't matter where I was going I just wanted to go!
Here is where my fear is...I want Zach to grow into a young adult. I want him to be safe within the confines of our house and our rules. So at what point do I let go a little more? Scott has already driven Zach around. Zach's 1/2 hour ride to his 8-10 p.m. hockey practice every week for the past five months has been with two of his hockey buddies, one who was a fairly new driver. Do I let him take the next step and the extra 15 minutes to go to a lacrosse game at noon, knowing he will be home when it's still broad daylight? My gut screams NO. My gut tells me to let him go to the game if an adult is driving. But is that the right answer? Is this just my fear of letting go and letting him experience that first taste of freedom? And how differently will I react when Lucas and Claire come to me with the same question. Zach is our guinea pig. The first born child always has the hardest row to how. Hopefully he will do it well ~ proving his trustworthiness to us and passing that on, causing the rules tweak and change a little as we go down the line.
But I really don't want to let go...for the love of my children.