I woke up in a panic this past Saturday morning. I had promised my oldest son I'd get him up by 7 a.m. as he needed to be at West High, a 10 minute walk from our house, by 7:45 a.m. for a college admissions test he was signed up to take. But both my electronic and canine alarm clocks failed me -- it was 7:20 when I opened my eyes.
I bounded out of bed and flung open the door to my son's room for reveille. But he was nowhere to be found. I hurried downstairs to find him quietly sitting at the kitchen table eating some toaster waffles. The coffee was made and he had his three perfectly sharpened number two pencils and a graphing calculator with backup batteries sitting neatly on the counter waiting to go. When I apologized for screwing up the alarm, he let me know it was no big deal. "Don't' worry, Mom," he said. "I'm ready."
He got up from the table a few minutes later, packed his supplies into a backpack and gave me a hug. He promised to text when the test was over to let me know his plans for the rest of the day.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
And that, my friends, is what I call a parenting win.
It was the moment we'd been training him for since the day he was born. And it wasn't always easy. There were time-outs for drawing mustaches on his sister's face with permanent magic marker. There were countless, painstaking lessons on how to properly match socks (no, just because both of them are white, does not necessarily mean they are a pair). There were the threats that if he didn't start to aim a little better in the bathroom, I might just make him clean it up.
But all the life coaching seems to have finally paid off. And it couldn't have come at a better time. School's out for summer and next year he'll be a senior. Now seems the time when being "ready" becomes dauntingly necessary. Because in a little over a year from now, he'll be off on his own.
He'll be getting up every day without my prompting. No one, except his conscience, will be asking him if he's done all his homework. He'll be buying his own groceries and doing his own laundry (all those sock-folding lessons will have come in handy). He'll be making his own choices on when to come home at night.
My son's test scores come back in a few weeks. I guess then he'll find out, at least from a numerical standpoint, how ready he really was when it came to math, history and Latin.
But regardless, last Saturday he got up on his own, made waffles and coffee and had his pencils and calculator all set to go.
So I think, in some of the most important ways of all, he is definitely ready.
The question is whether I will be come a year from fall.