Last night was every parent’s nightmare. My son was in a car accident. Thank God he is okay. And the other three kids are as well. A couple of scratches here and there. But the car they were in not so good. Ben wasn’t driving. A friend was but it could have been him (although he only has a permit now and not his license and doesn’t have access to a car). Young drivers make me nervous. But it wasn’t their fault. Someone backed up into them. But one’s stomach drops when you hear the news. You worry. You are freightened. And the fragility of their lives and yours is reinforced. As our teenagers get older and they are out in the world without us driving around the parental instinct to protect is the same but our ability to do so is lessened. I couldn’t protect him last night. I wasn’t even in town–I was away at a temple retreat! His other mom couldn’t protect him either. All we can do is comfort him in the aftermath. Help him process it. “It happened so fast, Ima, ” he said to me. Yes. Ben. It happened so fast. The accident, your growing up, you in a car with your friends, you having a permit to drive. All of it has happened so fast, it is dizzy-ing to me. Sounds so cliche’. And perhaps it is.
I remember all to well my own teen driving. I was so proud of my 1976 brand new-hunter green, with camel interior V-8 engine Camaro. I was the envy of my friends. My parents talked me into the sportier Camaro. And I tooled all over town with my friends in tow. And yes, I did stupid things. I was a teenager too. It was a long time ago. But I remember it as if it was just a few weeks ago–speeding down the back Tennessee two lane roads at speeds way faster than the posted speed limit. (Please don’t tell Ben!).
Yes, it happened so fast. My own growing up and his. The truth is I guess even as Ben is growing–I am still growing up. And that is the scariest moment of all. Thank God he is okay. Thank God everyone involved is okay. I just hope I can cope with scary moments like these and the scary moments of recognition that I can’t protect him the way I want to anymore. Heck, I can’t even protect me the way I want to anymore! Scary moments, indeed.