I accompanied my oldest daughter, Luca, to an open house for students who joined orchestra. She met her instructor and fellow students, but was most excited to see her friend, Taylor. Beginning next Tuesday she will board a bus bound for the middle school where she will learn to play the cello.
Not long ago she would have pulled her chair right up next to mine and sat as close to me as possible. But tonight I was there to take notes and find out when the bus would pick her up. Yes, she reminded me of that as we drove to the school.
Her best friend, who will also play the cello, was there to provide any support she needed. Sometimes I forget that she’s ten years old, not five. She’s making her own friends and forming opinions. She asks me as many questions as I ask her. It’s a two-way street.
I’m thrilled and proud to see her grow into a young woman. But there’s a part of me that yearns for the days when I was the center of her universe. My influence that was once great has been greatly diminished, and there are times when I feel she’d rather hang out with anyone but me.
After taking plenty of notes, we left the school and headed to our favorite teriyaki joint. It’s one of those anonymous holes-in-the-wall where it appears one person is doing the work of four. An older gentleman with limited English skills took our order while filling glasses with ice water and speaking on the phone.
We retreated to a booth to wait for our food.
“What is the best age for a person to get their first cell phone?” Luca asked.
“I don’t know. What do you think?” I replied.
“Maybe a few months before their 11th birthday.”
“Wouldn’t that be right around Christmas for you?”
It’s not the growing up part that concerns me. I mean, that’s how life works. It’s the fact that each day my influence on her is less pronounced. Which in many ways, it a good thing because I’m certain my influence hasn’t always been a positive. I hope the good has outweighed the bad because there’s not a lot of time left for major changes.
As we finished our meal, I sat across the table and smiled as she used my iPhone to send text messages. Such moments without the distractions of siblings are rare, and they seldom last more than a few minutes.
A couple of fortune cookies arrived with our check. Luca cracked open her cookie and read her fortune.
“Dad, what does yours say?”
I unfolded my fortune, and read it to myself. Then I folded it back up, and placed it in my wallet.
“It says eighteen is the ideal age for your first cell phone.”