I love my daughter. And why wouldn’t I? My ex and I have raised an amazing girl. How amazing? She told us a few months back that she wants to take extra classes over the summer so she can graduate early. But before she did, she made sure she spoke to me and her mother about it to see how we felt about it.
At first, I told her I think she should do whatever she wants to do in order to make herself happy.
“Dad, I’ve been to Homecoming and Prom. Homecoming is actually better than Prom. I like high school, but I don’t love it. Do you care if I take extra classes so I can graduate next year instead of waiting until 2019?”
“Is that what you want to do?”
Of course, I’d never dash her hopes and dreams. So naturally, she enrolled herself in online courses over the summer. Where most 16 year-olds are laid out on the couch in front of the TV watching shows on Netflix or playing video games or hanging out at the local ice cream shop or movie theater or beach, she was working a part-time job and doing schoolwork. How can I not be proud?
But today…today, her mother and I had a long talk on the phone. We discussed her future, preparing for college, and her current will to finish school early. So when I picked her up today, this is what I told her:
“You do realize you only get to be in high school once, don’tcha?”
“And you do realize that you can go to college any time in your life, but there will only be one time to experience a 4-year college experience, correct?”
“So, doesn’t it seem more feasible to stay in high school, have a senior year where you are investing your time dual-enrolling with a local college or university (either Broward College or FAU), that way you shorten your run in college vs. shortening your run in high school…since you can’t get high school back again?”
“Yeah, I guess I never thought about it that way.”
“Also, the benefits of staying in high school and dual-enrolling in college will save a whole year’s worth paying college expenses…doesn’t that sound like the better deal?”
She agreed with me, as her mother and I have both spoken to her about this. I think she is getting the picture and a better understanding.
These are the decisions my 16 year-old is making. I can’t stress enough how proud I am of the efforts she is making toward her education. What’s more? I love being able to be there to offer advice and guide her by supplying options and allowing her to make decisions. It instills confidence, makes her think, and builds independence.
Fishing through Facebook the last couple weeks, smiling at my friends and their families posting pics of their kids hitting 3rd grade, 5th grade, 6th grade… it makes me miss the moments where my daughter was young, in elementary/middle school, shopping for school supplies, missing that young innocence. But there’s the other side where I can have conversations with her now that are more “adult-like” and she’s done a fabulous job of developing amazing habits and sticking by them. Nothing is more complimentary to any parent than hearing your friends who have young children and say, “We can only hope when our child gets older, they turn out to be just like your daughter.” Makes me warm enough inside to melt polar ice caps.
I still can’t believe she is a Junior in high school. But I couldn’t be more in love and proud of the amazing woman she is slowly becoming. Her heart is bigger than the sun. Her mind is as vast as the universe. Her drive is as fast as a Lamborghini.
If these are the decisions of a 16 year-old – OUR 16 year – her mother and I have to deal with, then I’ll take it all day.