Dad Evolving, Carpool Lane Etiquette

Having a teenage daughter is the best. Right? Everyone?

I currently have a teenage daughter, and another on the way (but I have hopes the younger one, when she reaches her Teen years, will revolutionize how teenage daughters and parents interact with each other).

Let’s discuss the morning drop off at school with my 14-Year-Old in the carpool lane. She’s been a high-schooler for 4 months. Too many times I’ve made the mistake of telling her, as we pull up to our spot in the carpool line, “have a great day,” and, “I love you,” and, “I’m proud of you.” Each time I say those horrible things, she ignores me, can’t leave the car fast enough, and storms off. I drive away wondering, “what did I say? Did I use the wrong tone? Is telling someone you love them not what it used to be?”

Turns out, I’ve been doing it all wrong. What was I doing wrong? Well, I was saying these shameful things when the car door was open and other random girls, parents, administrators, and TMZ reporters might hear me. For a teeange girl to be seen openly communicating with a parent in a joyful, friendly way is not cool. Not cool at all!

Today, however, as the car began to slow, my daughter said, “OK, Dad. Tell me you love me and get it out of the way before the door opens.”

Whoa! This is a revelation.

I told her, quickly, “I love you. I’m proud of how serious you take your studies. I think it’s great how well, and early, you went to bed last night. Sleep is so important. Have a great day. It’s going to be a great day. When you get home from school, eat a healthy snack …”

I could hardly stop myself. To be given this access and permission to speak directly to my 14-year-old, and without earbuds, or a screen in her hands illuminating her face …this doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t.

And because I followed proper protocol, before she opened the door to exit the vehicle and storm off with her way-too-heavy backpack and lunch, she said, “I love you, too, Dad.”

Yup. Those words came out of her mouth (would it have been embarrassing if I was filming that moment with my flip-cam? …probably). I heard them. This happened. My daughter said, “I love you, too.”

That kinda moment is better than a cuppa coffee for getting the adrenaline going.

Needless to say, when I pulled away and started on my commute to work, I turned on Imagine Dragons and cranked it all the way up.

p.s. I’m not sure where “Blogging about your teenager” ranks on the “Most Horrible Thing a Parent Can Do” list, but it’s gotta be up there.

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