Teenager sets sights on another birthday

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Becca celebrated turning 14 years of age on Saturday by looking forward to yet another birthday.

When you are early in your teenage years, celebrating birthdays has less to do with the immediate one and more to do with the next birthday and the one after that.

Our daughter was thrilled to turn 14 because that put her one day closer to being 15.

She can't wait to turn 15. At that age, she'll be able to learn to drive.

She won't be driving alone at that age. But Becca says she'll be more than happy to drive with her parents in the car.

My wife, Joni, told Becca that she won't be learning to drive from her dad. My wife constantly tells me that I jerk the wheel too much. I'm always flunking what Joni calls "the milk bottle test."

That means that my stop-and-start driving would have knocked over a milk bottle if it were on the dashboard.

Joni doesn't want Becca to inherit my driving skills.

Of course, I don't think my driving is that bad. After all, the seat belt was invented for a reason.

Meanwhile, Becca isn't thrilled that we have two vans. She wants something more stylish.

Becca doesn't want to learn to drive in a van. She can't imagine being spotted by classmates while steering such a vehicle.

She hopes we get rid of our older van soon and replace it with a car, preferably one that won't embarrass her.

Becca can't wait to be an adult. She's looking forward to the day she can have her own car. Of course, she still doesn't add up all the costs.

It hasn't dawned on her yet that she'll be buying the gas. The freedom of the open road comes with some responsibilities.

Right now, Becca doesn't have the expense of operating a vehicle. She spends her money on important things like blue jeans and other assorted clothes.

Naturally, the jeans have holes in them. Trust me, they're not defective. They come that way, and teenagers like Becca pay good money to buy new jeans that look like they have been run over by a truck.

America clearly is the land of opportunity. Where else can you profit from holey jeans?

Becca went shopping on her birthday so she could spend some of her birthday money.

Today's teenagers clearly are doing their part to pump up the economy. Of course, they often rely on mom and dad to prime the pump.

I can cope with this shopping desire.

But I'd just as soon Becca not jump ahead too quickly with her life.

I'm not ready to give up being a chauffeur just yet. At least that way I know where she is and what she's doing.

When Becca was born, high school seemed a long way off. But then the years rushed by.

Becca's finishing eighth grade. The start of her high school years begins this fall.

I'm not ready for it. I already miss the days when she let us plan the birthday parties.

Fortunately her younger sister, 10-year-old Bailey, still appreciates such parties.

Becca's idea of a good birthday party is to go with friends to the cinema to watch a late-night, scary movie.

The movie, however, can't begin to compare to watching your daughter's life speeding along.

As a parent, you want to hit the brake. But you realize there isn't one.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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