It’s official. He has his learner’s permit. He’s the first of the Willis’s to have something issued by the state of Mississippi, and he’s pretty darn excited about the whole deal.

We’ve been out on the road with him a few times already. Here’s what I’ve observed…

1. He’s a Right Side Hugger. Perhaps it’s true for all new drivers because they’re used to the passenger seat, but this boy likes to hug the right side of the road. And in a town with very few shoulders, that can pose a problem.

2. Parking on one side of the driveway isn’t his strong suit. If he’s got the entire driveway, no problem. Otherwise… grass, beware.

3. His siblings enjoy instructing him. Poor kid is doomed to a lifetime of inexperienced, know-it-all backseat drivers.

4. He didn’t realize the passenger side mirror was for his use until he nearly sideswiped an oncoming car while changing lanes. Yes, Sam, ALL the mirrors are for the driver. And yes, the oncoming driver’s horn worked well. And yes, Dad’s reflexes are still pretty good for a 40-year-young.

5. Having a kid old enough to legally get behind the wheel of a vehicle makes me feel infinitely more grown-up.

6. No matter how hard you press against the passenger side door, you can’t force the car out of the right-hand shoulder. But it’s a good upper body workout. And I’ll probably keep trying.

He’s driving. Driving! Wasn’t it just yesterday that he was standing in the corner, filling his diaper, and grunting, “Leave me alone!” (Yes, he spoke full sentences before he was potty trained. That’s an entirely different blog post. None of us are proud.)

I love this kid. Love the young man he’s growing into. He makes me proud, makes me laugh, tugs at my heart every time he smiles. He’s a good one. Recently named to the Superintendent’s List for straight A’s, he continues to amaze me with his brain. It’s fun to watch him become a Real Live Boy. I enjoy his company (well, I enjoy him after 10:00 AM. Suffice it to say he’s not a morning person…), find him interesting to talk to. He shakes hands with adults and says, “Nice to meet you.” Since we moved South, he’s even added “Ma’am” and “Sir” to that equation.

My cup overfloweth.

I say a little prayer every time he walks away from me. I pray that he is secure, happy, and that he returns home to us safely. Because he’s growing up. And as he does that, he’s growing away, too. That’s the way it’s supposed to happen. That’s what we’ve been preparing him for these past 15 years.

But it still makes my heart sigh every time we give him a little more freedom.

That’s the way it is in parenting, in life. We love him enough to let him go. But just a bit. Then a tiny bit more. Baby steps. Teenager steps. All of them, forward-moving.

Stay safe and well, Sam.

And angels? Watch over him. Pretty please.

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