Brief Thoughts on Rites of Passage

When we talk about rites of passage, we are almost always contemplating the experience of the young person who is to pass through them. These days I have an entirely different perspective. I’m the person who stands aside and holds the spare gear while my children pass through. Sometimes the onus is on me to make sure that the rite happens as it should and on schedule. I’m definitely responsible to make sure that my youngster is prepared.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve failed at all of these tasks.

We’ve reached the portion of our lives where my children are hitting rites of passage faster than I can catch my breath. Eighteenth birthdays, turning twelve, becoming a teenager, sixteenth birthdays, leaving elementary school, leaving junior high, graduating high school, first dates, learning to drive, going to college, wisdom teeth removal, and on and on. All of it is crammed together with all the trappings of every day life. Things keep sneaking up on me and instead of making sure everything is prepared in advance, I’m left scrambling things together and hoping the kids don’t notice how very last-minute it all is.

I think overall things are fine. That’s the thing about rites of passage, there is no triumph if the path through is always smooth. I also have to recognize that their rites of passage also represent rites of passage for me. First child hits eighteen, youngest leaves elementary, teaching kids to drive, these are not just new for the kids, they’re also new for me. I’m as afraid of getting it wrong as they are. For some of these things I have far more emotions about the event than they do. We just muddle through together.