Saturday, September 21, 2013

16. 16. 16. 16.

My daughter is 16 now. 16. 16. 16. Can you tell I'm having a little trouble wrapping my arms around that number? (Almost as much trouble as I have wrapping my arms around my daughter — unless, of course, she wants something. Then she's all about the cuddling.) 

Anyway, in case I haven't mentioned it about thirty times in the past thirty seconds ... my daughter is 16. 


I have this never-ending ear worm in my head. David Byrne, circa 1980. 

"You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?"

Okay. How did I get here?

Turning 16 is big, big, big. The biggest thing in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts is that my daughter now has a piece of paper with her picture on it that gives her the right to drive. With a licensed adult and lots of restrictions, sure. But, still! The permit is hanging (should I say, is proudly displayed?) on our refrigerator door right now. That way, whether I'm taking her out or her father is, we know where to find it. Unfortunately, it means that I see it about two thousand times a day. In the picture, grainy digital black-and-white, she's smiling. Apparently, she just can't wait to get behind the wheel of a two-ton lethal weapon.

Omg. I feel a little queasy.

She still can't drink or smoke legally, I guess I should be grateful for that. (Or vote, for that matter, which is unfortunate because we tend to see eye-to-eye on politics.) But, it does make me wonder about other rights she's suddenly acquired. A quick Google and here you go ...

According to CAB, the Citizens Advice Bureau, at 16:

• She can leave home without consent from her parents.

Not gonna happen. 

• She can apply for a firearms license.

Not gonna happen.

• She can get married or enter a civil union with her parents’ consent.

Not gonna happen.

• She can leave school and work full-time.

So not gonna happen

• She can consent to sexual intercourse.

Omg. And, if that's not bad enough ...

• If she's treated for a sexually transmitted disease the doctor does not have to tell her parents.

OMG. Can you tell I'm having a moment of maternal denial?

The news isn't all bad. My 16-year-old can also legally change her name and earn minimum wage and apply for certain benefits such as the Youth Payment, Young Parent Payment and the Guaranteed Childcare Assistance Payment.

Omg. My head hurts. Pardon me while I go block CAB's website from my daughter's computer.

Okay, I'm back now.

I've heard so many mothers wish aloud that their little ones would stay ... well ... little. And, it is truly difficult to say good-bye to a beloved baby, a toddler, a sweet child. I've always tried to avoid voicing the feeling because I never wanted my daughter to think I dreaded our (her) future. There are many wonderful things about growing up. 

My daughter has become my friend (when she's actually talking to me, that is). And I need to look on the bright side.

That piece of paper on the fridge can't be replaced by an actual license unless she completes forty hours of driving practice with a parent. And, she's not going to complete forty hours of driving practice with a parent unless she's very very (very very) nice to that parent.

Hmmm ... this may all work out after all.

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