October 27, 2004

It has been a long time since I last updated this page.  The last thing I wrote was my memorial to Pat Tillman . Before that I mentioned that Tracey was about to become a teenager.  Well Tracey has long passed that mark and is well on her way to becoming a young woman.   It's time that I start writing again and fill in the blanks of the last year.

Tracey turned 13 on September 11, 2003 and this was a milestone that she had dreamed of for a long time.  She used to let Carol and I know that she was going to be a teenager after her next birthday.  She started telling us this on September 11, 2002.  Tracey couldn't wait for this day to arrive.  Every time she would talk about it she would light up with excitement and start to giggle and laugh.   Like most kids, becoming a teenager is a right of passage that means they are no longer children.  They expect that on this birthday, they have more rights in the family unit.  They have earned more respect, more leniency of the rules and lets not forget, more money to go shopping.  

Most of you know that I have never had kids of my own, so I haven't seen the progression of children as they grow.  I haven't seen the changes and advancements that seem to occur and you never realize when the change has taken place.  I am now seeing these progressions for the first time with Tyler being 5 years old when I first became a part of this family and with Tracey being 10.  Tracey turned 13 and became a teenager.  She wanted more from us (respect, trust and freedom) while expecting less from us (rules and restrictions).  This just isn't that easy to do.  She wants us as parents to loosen our grip on her and let her experience life without as much supervision.   Let her make some choices on her own without having us question them or point out that the decision she is about to make might not be the right one.  For Tracey it was turning 13 that made all of this happen.  She had now earned it.  For us, it wasn't that she was now 13, it was her maturity that started to show through in her actions and her better understanding of what the world is like that allowed these things to happen.  What's amazing is that these things didn't happen when she turned 13, but over the progression of the year that was 13.  I can't put my finger on the moment that we decided to let her make some choices without our input.  I can't remember when Tracey stopped playing with makeup and started wearing makeup.  I can't remember when it was that she showed interest in other things like friends, socializing and "hanging out" while she took on more responsibilities of her own accord over playing and spending time at home.  All I know is that she has grown and matured and is becoming a smart and beautiful young woman.  

Don't get me wrong, Tracey has stumbled with some of her choices and she has learned valuable lessons from these mistakes.  Tracey along with all kids her age are under so much pressure to fit in and be accepted that they some times make the wrong choices.  Lucky for us today these decisions are whether to wear a bike helmut or not, or should we really double up on a scooter made for one person?   Kids believe nothing will ever happen to them and I believe that most people feel this way too.   But I read in the papers about many kids hurt while riding their bikes, scooters, quads and so on to the point of head trauma and death.  So we have to uphold the rules for no other reason than to try to reduce the extent of possible injury that I hope will never ever happen to Tracey or Tyler or any other kid.   I can't worry about the kids down the block and what their parents allow or don't allow, I have to do what I feel is right for these kids - so that they can live longer than I will.   Tracey is a smart girl, but falls to these pressures on a few occasions and that's OK, she is learning and growing.   I feel lucky that Tracey is the person that she is growing into and I'm proud of her.  Carol has done a wonderful job of raising Tracey and Tyler to become the people that they are today and I am proud of her to.  

There are days when Tracey still has her little girl moments and those are fun to watch.  But I wonder how can two different people inhabit the same body.  The one that wants to be on her own without any say from her parents - independent and free - and then the little girl that still curls up with her mom on the sofa and gets close enough to cuddle and asks for her mom's help in making her breakfast in the mornings.  The progression of life and the change in children, it's something that I have not experienced until now and I'm excited to be able to.

Tracey is now 14 and the next milestone in her life will be going to High School.  She is one of the big kids on campus now at her Kindergarten thru 8 school but that doesn't mean as much to her as getting to High School.   This will bring more challenges for us as parents, but that's almost a year away before she will get there so I intend to watch and enjoy Tracey continue to grow and mature as a young woman and see what happens next.  

Thanks for reading and I'll try to do better about keeping this page updated a little more frequently than once every six months.  Until next time, take care and enjoy today.  You never know what might be around the corner.