Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

From High School to Helicopter Parent




My wife and I were having lunch the other day at a restaurant in Charlotte. Two gentlemen sat at a table next to us, and we couldn’t help but overhear some of their conversation.

One guy congratulated the other guy on a decade of marriage. The other guy then said, “Yeah, 10 years and two kids later, and I still feel like I’m in high school. What the heck happened?”

I chuckled to myself. My wife noticed, and when we got in the car to leave, she asked, “Do you ever feel that way?”

I smiled and said, “Every single day.”

It’s not a bad thing. Time just gets away.

I wanted to share a beer with that guy in the restaurant and let him know I was him ten years in the future, and I still felt more like an 18-year-old than someone well into yet another midlife crisis.

To understand my current midlife crisis, I must first explain why my wife and I were in Charlotte.

We were picking up our oldest daughter, the 18-year-old, from the airport.

Yes, the airport. This is the same little girl who—not so long ago—was sitting in my lap working a pacifier as I read her Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! This is the girl I wouldn’t let get on a bike without a helmet and a route plan. This is the teenager I make stay in our neighborhood when she’s going for a jog. This is the same person who must let me know when she leaves the house and when she arrives anywhere when she’s driving. And now, this is the person who just traveled on multiple planes by herself to Chicago and beyond to visit a college.

I used to get nervous when she was playing by herself in our backyard. Now she leaves her mother and me, goes coach 800 miles from home, spends a few nights with other coeds, and then flies back home. That guy in the restaurant had no idea what was in store for him.

One minute we’re rocking a mullet and a blue jean jacket singing along to A Flock of Seagulls, and the next minute we’re handing our oldest child off to United Airlines and some strange college kids we’ll never meet.

It’s surreal.

Of course, I know someone is out there right now giggling to themselves and saying, “Wait till you hand her off in marriage” or “Wait till that’s your grandkid flying off to college, then you’ll really freak out.”

I’m sure I will, but for now, I’m still managing to freak out pretty good at this latest stage in the parenting process.

It wasn’t that long ago when I thought I was all grown up when my mom handed me the keys to her car. Now my kid is all grown up, and my other two aren’t far behind.

What the heck happened?

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