I’m trying to teach my daughter to drive, but there’s nowhere to go. We order our groceries online for delivery, prescriptions come with a three-month supply, and school is taking place in our basement on a laptop. Where to drive?
But I’m doing it anyway, the same way I browsed grocery stores all gaggle-eyed and hopeful when our family followed the six-food-elimination diet for eosinophilic esophagitis ten years ago. My daughter was misdiagnosed, it turned out, but we didn’t know that as we ate food without dairy, soy, eggs, nuts and wheat. I pushed my cart around the store aimlessly, hoping for a surprise. Maybe, I thought, this brand will have discovered a secret combination of ingredients that tastes like what I remember, for once.
Sometimes, that surprise DID come. I found that Fruity Pebbles, that horrible day-glo cereal my husband loved that made my throat hurt from the intensity of the sugar, fit the diet perfectly. I brought it home like a trophy, drizzled it with rice milk, ate it with a big fake smile on my face.
But sitting in a car next to that same girl — now fifteen and healthy and unrestricted — as she slowly takes her foot off the brake and inches us forward? That doesn’t feel like it has surprises in it. Where will I take her when this path around the block is too easy? I make a mental list:
- to the Starbucks drive-through
- to deliver homemade cookies to a friend
- to visit her shuttered high school and practice the intricacies of parking spaces
- to the UPS store, to mail a package to her sister, away at college
It’s enough, I suppose, for now, to have modest destinations in mind. It’s enough, for sure, that this girl I struggled so to feed and grow is here, a decade after the crazy diet, eating anything, everything, bean soups and cookies and salads and giant grilled vegetable sandwiches and french fries and pizza and pint after pint of berries. It’s enough that at her petite height, we found a car over whose hood she can see enough to navigate, squinting against the glare of the windshield to find the edge of the alley and stop, gently, like she’d been braking all of her life.
It’s enough that she high-fives me as we get out, just a few minutes later, enough that she doesn’t argue when I suggest we do this again tomorrow. It’s enough that we’ve spent all this time together — hard time, easy time, lazy time, stressful time, anticipatory time with nothing to anticipate — and she still says sure, let’s do it.
It’s enough that today, she went out with her dad for the drive around the block and I am home alone in my house for the first time in — is it 6 months? Was I alone once before, maybe, for a few minutes?
It’s enough for now to have her here to nuzzle against me on the couch and watch TV, to teach her to make homemade pesto from the basil we walk only twenty feet from our door to gather, to see her search our wild, overgrown tomato plant for a ripe one and pop it in her mouth without thinking, tasting the sun on its flesh.
It’s enough that she’s finding treasure in the things her sister left behind, big plush scrunchies in an abandoned drawer in the basement, more leftover pasta than usual, grace in the quiet.
That’s the surprise, it turns out: that even our house, even our yard, even our block has surprises. Even the look in my girl’s eye when she makes a perfect left turn – that’s the surprise.
Are we there yet? Well, where’s there, anyhow?
For now, we’re going nowhere, I guess, and we’re going there slowly. It’s not all bad.
This is a photo prompt and #BlogHop with our friends at Finish the Sentence Friday hosted by Mardra of MardraSikora.com – the question is: “Are We There Yet?” What’s your take?