Living 15 Again…There’s Something Special About 15

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Here we go again.  My second born is at that age, 15 1/2 and everything is changing so quickly now.  I remember this time with my son. Getting a driver’s permit and actually enjoying  the time spent teaching him to drive (except for a few white knuckle moments) and knowing that on his 16th birthday, we would see a lot less of him.

Turning 16 with his keys to freedom, a car!

What I didn’t know is just how fast it would go from there.  Dating, first job, SATs, graduation, leaving for college!  A whirlwind.

Exciting.  Scary.  Wonderful.  Bittersweet.  All these words fit this extraordinary time in both a teenager’s life and in the parent’s life, too.

And now it’s happening again…slow down time.

Please.  Pretty please.

But time does not and the only time that time seemed to stand still was when I delivered these babies.  During the hospital stay, I checked out of the outside world, stopped listening to the ticking clock (except to time feedings) and was completely tuned in to time with my infant.  I was utterly consumed with my new little life.  I was instantly head over heels in love.

Driving, dating, SATS and all of that seemed galaxies away….hundreds of years in the future.

I am back in the passenger seat again.

But those days….yet again…my final teenage Mama ride is here again.  My girl is moving through these last few months of 15 so quickly now.

Just like that.  A magic trick.  Now you see a little baby.  Now you don’t.  Now you see a kid.  Now you don’t.

Now I see a cutie pie teenage girl before me daily.

Lunch with my girl. She drove me there. Cherished time.

Soon I won’t.  I know how fast it goes from here.

15 is pivotal.  So pivotal.  So good.  So hard.

So all of the above.

And this particular time for Mamas of almost 16-year-olds is a special and scary time.  A lot comes with that photo card that makes the kid an official legal driver.  Daily questions.

Can I go here? Can I go there?  What time is my curfew?  Can I pick up such and such?  Can I have some gas money?  Don’t worry, Mom and Dad….I know I am running late, but I won’t speed.  Can I have a later curfew than last week?

When I wrote about my son getting his license four years ago, the paragraph above wasn’t in my article. Because I hadn’t experienced those questions before.  I hadn’t yet experienced the joy and pride of watching him drive off.

And the fear.

Ugh.  Again so bittersweet.

Life gets easier for Mama when they drive.  But if you think you will now get caught up on lost sleep from all those years before….well…think again.

Now you get to worry from the comfort of your own bed when you wake up at the exact moment the clock turns to their curfew time.  And if they are late, you don’t want to text or call them while they are driving.  That is always a tough decision to figure out how long to wait before you call.

And then it is no fun punishing them for being late on a curfew.  But consequences matter.  And consequences still stand.  And now Mama has a big currency.  Taking away the car.  Hopefully when this happens they learn quickly to follow the rules of this new road to keep them safe.  And Mama sane.

But I don’t have to go there yet.  Soon, but not yet.

So yeah, there is something about 15.  It isn’t the start of the teen years with 13 or the official driving age of 16 or becoming a legal adult at 18.  15 isn’t a celebrated number, but it is a rite of passage time.  I didn’t get that the first time around when my son was 15.

It was all about him soon turning 16.  The countdown.

This time I am not counting down.  I am completely and 100% in the present.  I am all about 15 this time around.

15 is special.  15 is sweet.  Your 15-year-old is still with you a lot, learning how to drive and moving one big toe to the edge of the nest.  15 turns to 18 so fast that it will make your head spin.

Oh 15…you are the sweet one.  Sweet 16 for them, but 15 is sweet for the parents.  The last of that phase.  16 signals much more independence.  And it is right.  And it is good.

But I will greatly miss 15.

I am cherishing these days with my girl behind wheel WITH me BESIDE her.  So much will change this fall when she turns 16.

Here we go again and this time I have the pain of knowing how fast it goes from here.

So parents reading this piece.  My tidbits of advice.

It is a little unsettling at first, but cherish teaching them to drive.  Turn off the radio and listen to them, their driving questions and other topics that come up.  The more drive time put in, the more relaxed and experienced that teen of yours becomes.  And you, too.  Then casual conversation takes place.  They start to really talk to you at times, to open up.

Cherish that time.  Enroll them in professional driving lessons.  Then let them drive you all over town.  I do this when the pro driving teacher gives me a good report and tells me that they are freeway ready.

Cherish 15.  I know it is hard on some days.   VERY hard, I know.  I have raised both a boy and am nearing the teen years finish line with a girl.  I know it is hard on some days.  I repeat.  Very hard.  Tearfully hard.  Fights.  Hurt feelings.  Harsh words exchanged.  All normal. Hard but a part of them pulling away as they assert their independence.

To navigate the roads without you in the car. 

To navigate the roads ahead that life will take them without you right beside them most of the time.

And don’t you just want to jump in front of that moving car called life and point them in the right direction?!  I do! I do!  I do!

But 15 is the beginning of the end of being able to always do that.  15 is a big beginning for them and a beginning of really letting go for you.

Not easy.  Not for the faint of heart.

Parenthood is not for sissies.  Especially when they leave 15.

When my son proudly passed his road test with a 100% score in 2013, we celebrated.

And then he surprised me.

He asked me to please take him home so he could then drive off without me.  Ouch.  But I understood.  And I remembered doing the exact same thing to my mama in 1985.

I also remember thinking in 2013 that I had four years left before I had to go down this road again.  I had no idea that those 4 years would feel like 4 minutes.

Taylor Swift nails it with her 15 song.  It is a pivotal year.  Everyone thinks 13 or 16 or 18.  All big years.

But there is something about 15.  A time that sports a kid that is a combo of sweet, salty and spicy.  Hormones. Teenagers.  Change.  A lot for a teen to take in all at once.  A lot for the parents, too.

Deal with the salty.  Understand the spicy.  Cherish the sweet.

Communicate with your kid.  Listen to that soon-to-be 16 year old.

Oh 15…can you hang around a little longer with my girl?  Oh time, can you please slow down?

Time is telling me no again.  No way.  Not happening.  Sorry Mom.

My daughter is very thankful that I don’t have the power to slow down time!

Sigh.

I think I will go ask my daughter if she wants to take me on a drive now….me and my heart.

Bittersweet 15.

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