154: Now I Get It
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When I was younger and first had my driver’s license, my dad would say “keep your eyes open” when I’d leave the house. And I’d always laugh a bit, wondering if he actually thought I was going to close my eyes while I was driving.
Part of me knew it was just his way to say be careful and I love you. I heard it as a 16 year old. And I still heard it as a 24 year old and a 33 year old. It was just something he said.
Now that I have kids who not only drive, but are greatly and very quickly expanding their horizons, I understand my father’s comments in a totally different way.
I hear myself saying similar things to my youngest when he’s going to leave with friends for the night. He’s patient and smirks at my “where are you going” and “who are you going with” questions, especially when I toss in “what color underwear will you be wearing” just to make sure he’s paying attention.
I hear myself saying it to my oldest when he’s going to take his motorcycle for a spin around the block.
When I started suggesting modifications to their motorcycles like brighter lights and better mirrors, my youngest jokingly asked me if I was going to bubble wrap their motorcycles before they rode. I told him that the fact I even let them ride a motorcycle meant there wasn’t a lot of bubble wrap on them.
But I’m still going to toss out that “be careful” or “pay attention” or maybe even “keep your eyes open” when they leave in their car or on their motorcycle or with friends.
Which is really no different than me visiting my 62 year old father at work last week, and him telling me when I leave to be careful at that horrible intersection that’s right outside where he works. Which he tells me every. single. time. that I happen to visit him at work.
I’ve been driving now for 27 years. I’ve been in my own house for almost 21 years. And my dad still gives warnings of be careful or keep your eyes open.
Because that’s just what we do when we care about people.
I knew that before, in some part of my brain, but now that I have my own kids who are out and about…
…now I actually get it.
— Amy Dingmann, 6-10-21
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