but they'll always be our "babies."
Today the teenager turns Sweet 16. Though she wasn't always so "sweet," as this picture can attest to.
(We were so proud. No other baby came close to capturing the title "Crankiest Baby." And for the honor, we received a giant basket of baby products from Whole Foods.)
Like most milestones in her life, starting with her birth (18 hours of labor -- and I'm still laboring), this one was greeted with screams and tears. Indeed, what should have been a joyous occasion, getting her learner's permit, quickly turned to sorrow when our local DMV refused to accept the teenager's carefully assembled paperwork, which included her passport, her official school ID, paystubs from work, bank statements, two pieces of mail addressed to her, and a report card.
What just-turned-16-year-old, btw, has all of that stuff?
Yet it was not good enough for the DMV. No. They wanted AN OFFICIAL SCHOOL TRANSCRIPT or else her social security card, which I thought we lost. ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?
Long story slightly shortened: The teenager returns home in tears and proceeds to prostrate herself on her bed while I turn my filing cabinet upside down in search of her social security card, which I found. Then I hauled her out of bed and insisted she go right back to the DMV, with her father (bless him), and convince them to let her take the test. So she could drive this fine piece of British machinery, my nine-year-old Mini Cooper, Roger.
And yes, I fully expect her to drive around in the Mini with the bunny ears and nose on the car.
Fortunately, the story has a happy ending.
The bureaucrats at the DMV let her take the learner's permit test -- and she passed. Crisis averted. Onward and upward.
It's funny. When I gave birth, like so many women before me, I thought the worst pain had past. (Did I mention I was in labor for over 18 hours -- and then couldn't sit for another six weeks?) But it was only just the beginning.
As I have learned, being a parent is far more than giving birth and providing food and shelter and clothing to your offspring. Or chauffeuring them around. Or attending recitals or soccer games. You need a master's or PhD in psychology or child development and the patience of a saint (neither of which I have, but I'm working on it).
But I look at my beautiful, smart, talented (did I mention she is an amazing cook and makes us dinner every night?) daughter, now 16, and figure the spouse and I must have done something right.
I just hope to hell she gets into college, or else mommy is going to need a room at a nice sanitarium.
Anyway.... Happy birthday, daughter. I think you are amazing, and I -- we -- love you very much.