Rites of Passage
There are many firsts to celebrate: first words, first steps, first day of school. Before the dust has settled on the dazzling accomplishment we start to look forward to the next, with hopeful hearts. They are precious, these firsts, and so we mark them with balloons and cupcakes, we snap a hundred photos when one would suffice, we take video footage we may never watch. We sigh and oh and ah and gaze in wonder at our talented, beautiful protégé. These moments are our payback for all those times we thought about packaging our sweet darlings up and shipping them to where the sun doesn’t shine, but then thought again.
Today, her first regulation field hockey game, followed by her first date. The game was exciting, but it’s the date we are buzzing about.
At this very innocent and tender age, parental involvement is a key component, so when she asked would I drive her to the theater to meet her date, there was no hesitation. In the midst of a crazy weekend that involved too many things, book clubs, skiing, soccer, field hockey, and dinner parties, the answer was a resounding yes. For you, I would move mountains. Not that I’m keen to thrust her into the world of dating, but for this first, her first innocent coupling, which caused a glow in her eyes and a blush in her cheeks, this we can manage.
He asked her over Skype, which is apparently how it all shakes down these days. My instructions were to deliver her to the theater at the appointed time. I quelled my desire to phone or email the boy’s mom, to her great relief, as apparently landlines are provincial and only a step above snail mail. Yet checking with other moms is as instinctive as putting butter on my popcorn. It felt funny to not double check the time and location with another adult; leaving the logistics up the kids is foreign to me. This is a first, I reminded myself, this is what it must be like, back off.
Sensing this moment called for something – advice? didactic story from my past? lecture? – I readied myself to impart wisdom, but she wanted to listen to the radio. She spotted the boy and his mother waiting outside the theater from two miles away. I instinctively reached for her hand as we approached them, which seems more awkward since we are the same height, and she politely rebuffed me, of course.
Mercifully, the other mother was as perplexed as I was about how to handle the situation. We laughed and talked and watched our kids turn three shades of crimson before sending them in together. I resisted the urge – however powerful – to record the moment with a snapshot, and instead recorded a mental image of two kids, both with freckles, braces, and red ears. Another first to celebrate, albeit quietly.