There She Goes

Athena, driving herself to school for the very first time. A strangely melancholy moment here. On one hand, now I’ll get to regularly sleep in on school days for the first time in over a decade. On the other hand, my brain has started this song on a loop.

So there’s that. They do grow up, they do.

59 Comments on “There She Goes”

  1. Awww!!! What a wonderful, terrifying, exciting, nerve-racking, proud, and generally emotional moment and day!!! It’s such a strang myriad of sensations watching them do things for the first time, even little things, like discovering their fingers when they’re wee babbies, never mind big things like officially driving oneself to school. *waves cheerfully to Athena* *sips coffee and frets over her being safe as if she were my daughter too*

  2. As I live vicariously through your posts, I find myself experiencing a myriad of emotions I did not think were possible about someone I have never met. Watching a child become an adult is one of the most bittersweet experiences we can have. A girl child becoming a woman makes us even more proud and fearful because of their strength and vulnerability. Congratulations on a job well done. Now watch your adorable Athena soar like the goddess that she is.

  3. Congratulations!


    You have my sympathies, good sir.

    My REALLY big “My GOD, but there is a lot of dust in this room today” moment was my son’s first day of college. So you’ve got that to look forward to. (And I mean that completely, it’s a great moment I’ll treasure forever. Dammit! If this room didn’t just fill up with dust again.)

  4. A five-year-old friend of Rosie’s has a classic fond exchange with her regular babysitter that I got to see yesterday:

    Sitter: You drive me crazy!
    Child: I can’t drive until I’m sixteen!

    How early they start looking forward to being bigger. How fast the time goes.

  5. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me

    Man, I feel you. Mine just turned 16 yesterday. Driving lessons will start soon for her. They do grow up fast.

  6. With reference to the song, I don’t think Athena is really the poster child for middle-aged angst. That will have to wait a few decades (fortunately).


  7. Our son won’t start driving lessons for another twelve years. I’ll be 59. I sure hope “autodrive is a thing that happens” by then.

  8. This totally made me miss my youngest boy (Now almost 22), my daughter in law, and my two grandbabies in Germany! Cling as much as you feel inclined, because the days of being able to be the static-laden fabric softener sheets of their lives pass far too quickly. Heck, I see the daughter in the same city as me three times a year, TOPS! And the ones who are half a nation or more away… yeah… sadness.

  9. Karen A. Wyle – I'm an appellate attorney, an author, a photographer, a politics junkie, and a Hoosier (aka intermittent fan of IU basketball). My published work (aside from law review/legal journal articles) includes multiple science fiction novels, some near future and some involving other planets, equipped with aliens. More recently, I've veered off into historical romance, specifically a series called Cowbird Creek and set in 1870s Nebraska. I've also published one nonfiction book, Closest to the Fire: A Writer's Guide to Law and Lawyers. While originally intended to help writers use accurate details in their legal settings and expand the scope of such stories, I realized while writing it -- and have heard from readers -- that it could also be of use and interest to students, immigrants, and anyone interested in better understanding the American legal landscape. My other blog, Looking Around, is at

    My younger daughter was (a) nervous about driving and (b) too busy with extracurricular activities to learn to drive during high school — so I had until she was about to spend the entire summer after high school at drum corps before imminent empty nest really hit me. For me the song was “Turn Around.” (At the link: the Kenny Loggins version, with visuals from . . . Sims 2!)

  10. Wow, that’s a nice car she’s driving; my brother had to put up with a banged-up rustbucket when he was in school. (I just didn’t, and don’t, have a car; but then I’ve never lived more than 5 miles from all the places I routinely need or want to be).

  11. w00t! Go Athena! (Even though I still somehow think of her as… about twelve…)

  12. Now we know why John hasn’t been talking about money lately. His daughter is hitting him up for a car. A Minivan isn’t exactly a cool kids car.

  13. Congratulations to you & Athena! My son is 17 & has yet to start driving, primarily because he & I are in a battle of wills over whether he gains possession of my Mustang before or after I shuffle off this mortal coil (though his driving may just hasten that day by several decades).

  14. Our kids are not yet old enough to get a license, but that day’s not far off. Though considering how high car insurance rates are in Philly (especially for young drivers), I’m hoping to encourage them to get comfortable with the transit system (and taxis), and not feel the need to get a license right away.

    (I do want them to learn to drive before leaving home– it’s a useful skill to have, especially in places where there *aren’t* good alternatives to private automobiles. But I wouldn’t mind if they don’t do it at the very first point they legally can. At the moment, neither of them seem to be counting down the days till they can get a license, though.)

  15. You make her drive a minivan to school? I mean, I’m a fan of the Odyssey (that’s the same color, and looks like a similar model year, to my own), but I’m a middle aged father of four girls. She’s a high school student. I’m pretty sure that counts as child abuse in some jurisdictions.

  16. Oh man, I got misty the other day when I took my older son to the elementary school he’ll probably be attending. I can’t imagine him driving away! Although he does try to sneak into the driver’s seat when I’m not looking….

  17. She ruined everything, in the nicest way……. She’s smart and not raised by wolves. I think that kid is going far.

  18. I’m pretty sure Athena’s first reaction is “I get to drive the car! By myself! W00t!” Angst over not having a ‘kewl’ car (or a car you don’t have to ask permission to borrow) comes later, and is a basis for discussion of after school jobs, etc. We’ve been vicariously watching Athena’s milestones for years now; you go, girl!

    How did her blood donation thing yesterday go? I don’t like it when the doctor says I need a blood test, let alone voluntarily getting stuck with vampiric needles; chances are good I would have passed out.

  19. rfyorkinpdx:

    As the parent of this kid, I suggest you don’t try to suggest I will feel differently than I suspect I will. It’s vaguely rude.

  20. I just realized there are probably twenty songs with “There she goes” in them, though only one with such an aggressive hook. Maybe you could just cycle through all of them a day at a time.

    I got into parenting as a step-parent of teenagers, so life was pretty loaded up with good-bye/first time/there they go moments almost as soon as I was attached to them. I’d say it’s either the most melancholy satisfaction or the most satisfactory melancholy I’m aware of. Definitely makes one aware of the temperature, force, and direction of the stream of time.

  21. My 18-year-old nephew (and his new driver’s license) were up for a visit and a spell of house- and cat-sitting a few weeks ago. Teaching him to drive my stick-shift truck reminded me that I’d bought it when he was 8…and brought back the memory of him riding in the passenger seat at that age, asking me “How do you know how to DO that?”

    Suddenly the windshield fogged up. Yeah, that was it…sure…

  22. My daughters are ten months old, so a morning like this is far off in my future. Still, the odd reminder that these lovely little creatures still small enough for me to be able to carry two up the stairs at once, and hold all three with a certain amount of juggling, will grow up all too soon is nice to get. With triplets you tend to get so caught up in making sure all the immediate needs are met that thoughts of the future tend to come only when prodded

  23. I drove my mom’s Pinto to school, and that was uncool even before they started exploding. A van would have been cooler back then, plus you can fit a whole lot more teenagers in one. No matter how flexible and foolhardy and skinny you are, there’s a limit to how many high school kids you can fit into a Pinto, or into my friend Sue’s old-skool Beetle. We’d have LOVED to all have a seat instead of having to stack up like cordwood. In a whole lot more of snow and ice than that (psh, that’s barely a dusting, and the road’s clear!)

  24. Awwww Such a sweet post!! Go have some pie – you’ll feel better!

  25. oshrivastava – Bhopal (M.P.)India – God is,I belive that god support every body like a mother,हर सांस का धन्यवाद तो उसे दे नहीं सकते फिर भी बिना शिकायत वह तुम्हारी प्रत्येक चाहत को पूरी करता हैं , बोलो सुबह शाम ,ॐश्री राधेकृष्णा बोले,

    Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.

  26. My youngest daughter is 18 and a senior and is still working on her license. (She’s in no hurry.) It’s going to be strange when she heads off to college this fall. *sniff*

  27. If I may ask, was she looking forward to getting her license? It seems to me that Kids These Days don’t really feel in a rush to do so, whereas when I was a child, the day you turned 16 was like Christmas morning. I’m trying to figure out if this is an olds thing or a California thing.

  28. So surreal to me too John. Breana drove herself all over town today. It sounds cliché but I can remember holding her when she was a little 6 pound baby.

  29. @mythago, my kid didn’t get a license until 23; at 28, zie doesn’t own a car, but between local public transit and Zipcar doesn’t feel the need (zie walks to work and the grocery store, and there are 3 Zipcars in the lot across the street). I didn’t get mine until 25.

  30. Ok across pond here. she’s driving already? (Background – Took me 50 hours before I was ready to take a test. Average according to my instructor is 40 hours. Then I had save up £1000 to be insured on my own car aged 18)

  31. Time does fly doesn’t it? It took me a couple of years to get used to my son driving. Still won’t drive within ’cause he drives worse than I do (I drive like a thug). Driving a stick is a lost art, although if you can, you can often get used cars that have stick cheaper because most people can’t drive a stick.

  32. Mythago:

    She definitely wanted her license, yes. Bear in mind we’re out in the middle of nowhere. Having a license opens up a lot of options for her, in terms of visiting friends and such.

  33. SD Gates – I work in the medical field, but really want to be a full-time gardener or writer or something that does not require me having to take a shower every morning. I have to work to buy my plants. My favorite thing to do is sit on the patio, with my puppies, writing, staring at the garden, daydreaming the day away.

    Brilliant post. Perfect song. I remember feeling the same way when my boys drove off out of the cul-de-sac, without me in the passenger seat. But I quickly found definite advantages to them driving (once I got over the fact that they didn’t need me as much anymore – well at least for chauffeuring). I found I could have them pop down to the grocery store, go pick-up dinner, go to the hardware store. No longer are there those last-minute dashes to Gamestop to trade in video games or pick-up new games. No longer do I have to drive them to their friend’s houses or do a late night run to pick them up from the movie theater. It’s very liberating. But I still hold my breath when I hear sirens in the distance and they are not safely at home. And I always make a point of saying, “I love you. Be careful.” And I hold my breath until they come back through that door.

  34. Congratulations!

    Athena must be about the same age as my older son — he drove himself and his brother to school for the first time about a month ago.

    I didn’t want to make a big deal of it and kissed them goodbye and then stood upstairs, surreptitiously watching out of my bathroom window as he carefully backed down the driveway in the van (yes, we have a van for him to drive) and head down the dirt road to the highway. I watched till he was out of sight. Like you, we live in a rural area and he is nine miles from school.

    I confess I was on pins and needles until, by chance, I got a text about 10 from the younger boy asking me some trivial question… then I KNEW THEY HAD ARRIVED SAFELY.

    It was huge for me. I’m sure it was for him too.

    It’s an amazing milestone. With children, as they say, the days are long and the years are short. Thank you for sharing.

  35. I hear you, John. My son is one year behind Athena in age and he’s talking about getting a learner’s permit. He’s almost as tall as me! I want my little boy back now!

    Speaking about that song, wow. You’re starting to sound like me. This is not good. When I hear you talk about your family all I hear is LOVE. So, here ya go:

  36. Seconded Stantonio.

    Down here it’s Learner’s licence at 16 which means 120 hours (yes, you read that right) of supervised driving before you get your solo licence at 17 at the very earliest (if your parents are very dedicated and/or rich). And even then you’re still looking at another three years on probation (lower speed limits, easier to lose your licence, restrictions on passengers etc).

    And for me, this was the particular earworm that followed reading the post (possibly an age giveaway):

  37. I was going to say “Hey, she’s starting the game in Hard mode” due to the snow and ice, But I suspect driving in traffic is even more of a challenge for a teen in rural Ohio. Not that either one is the easiest way to learn.

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