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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Backseat

My husband and I are sitting in the backseat of what used to be our good car which has been handed down to our son. Cole is practicing the route to Council Bluffs for when he turns sixteen next month. This will come in handy for things like soccer practice and apparently dates, he says. Our baby is almost sixteen. Ready to escape.

Our eldest daughter stayed at college this summer, opting to make money and hang out with young adults in a fun town. Since she is waitressing, it's difficult for her to come home on the weekends. And if she happens to come across a free weekend, she'd prefer Chicago over Earling. Go figure. Anyway, I was determined to reunite our family nucleus, so on the 4th of July we met in Des Moines for lunch. We skipped barbecue and fireworks in favor of Chinese food, the bookstore, an action movie, and of course ice cream. (There were actually quite a lot of us celebrating our patriotism this way. I guess that's why they call it America, baby.) Anyway, the day was peaceful and filled with laughs. I felt sad when my daughter departed for Iowa City, since there are fewer and fewer times we get to be together.

When the kids were little, we'd always attend the Dunlap 4th of July parade. It was (and still is) the quintessential Iowa parade: billions of tractors, marching geese dressed up like cowboys, fire trucks who like the sound of their own horn, melty tootsie rolls, and pretty horses who practically wave to the crowd like beauty queens. Then one day as I was instructing everyone to put on their patriotic Old Navy tees before the parade, they asked, “Do we have to go?” It was Independence Day, and they were testing their independence. Sure they were older, but still pretty darn young. My heart tugged a bit, and I realized there would be many more moments like that. I had to adjust to the facts. The kids would continue to grow up. They would continue to have their own interests. They would choose what they really wanted to do, like miss parades. Effectively, they'd be the drivers of their own lives. 

I'm not sure I love sitting in the backseat. But I'm getting used to it. And to be honest, Baby Driver was pretty freaking entertaining. And as long as our kids never outgrow ice cream, they will always be the young toddlers in my heart.

"Kids! We're taking you to parade!"
"Just kidding. How about a movie?"

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