My son is on the cusp of being a teenager. It will happen in about 3.5 months. He is at a place where he is testing the vast ocean of independence. And today, he dipped a toe in it. He had toyed with going to the 50th state fair earlier in the year with some friends. But then he thought that he would bring his dad. I told him that his friends probably weren’t down for that. He decided that he “wasn’t ready”. So he did not go.
This week, he told me that he wanted to go to the beach with some friends. He mentioned Ala Moana Beach Park. I felt good about it. Mostly. No big waves. Generally full of families. And then, yesterday, he told me that they wanted to meet in Waikiki. And suddenly, I did not feel as comfortable letting him go. I lectured him about not sticking around if the people he was with were doing bad things (I seriously doubted this would actually happen). I told him about the kids in the neighborhood throwing stuff at cars last week. I told him that he should use common sense. I told him that sometimes smart people do stupid things. I told him about how, when I was in college, I got fired from my supermarket job for giving girls I sort of knew a discount on their beer because they told me that was the price and I believed them. The manager did not believe my story of being stupid. I told him all those things.
I dropped him off in front of a store on Beach Walk in Waikiki. The other boy (two boys and two girls – no not like that) pulled up right behind us. That was good. And then he was getting out and he was gone. Well, not completely. In the time we were separated, he called me nine times. The first few times he called to ask which way it was to the beach. I kid you not. He called to tell me that the girls did not like the beach they were at. It was too rocky. My son realized they were near the Hilton Lagoon so they decided to walk over there. He called to tell me that. They pooled resources and rented a paddle boat in the lagoon. Then they changed out of their wet things and walked (another call) over to Ala Moana Shopping Center. There was bubble tea and sushi from Japan walk (and a few more calls). The girls pooled the last of their money and bought some weird nitrogen infused dessert and they shared it.
I picked my kid up in front of Shirokiya and asked him how it was. He told me that he had the best time. He told me it was better than he thought it was going to be. He said nothing bad about it. And I am glad. I am glad that it was fun. And that he felt safe. And that is what I wanted. I wanted him to have a good time. To not run into any issues. To build his confidence. And all of that happened.
And my heart broke just a teeny bit. As it should. I know that this is what you hope your kid does. You want them to do things on their own. But I know that this is just the beginning. It is the beginning of going to movies at night and maybe dating. Driving at some point. All of those milestones that I know will stem from the toe dip that was today. And I remain verklempt about the entire thing.