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Prom time …

She strolls down the flower-lined aisle with her arm wrapped around the offered arm of her date. He simultaneously seems awkward and regal in his tuxedo. She shimmers and shines in her evening gown and her grandmother’s necklace. The long-awaited prom is here.

Weren’t those two young adults only children yesterday? Memory has them starting out as bubbling, cooing babes in arms coming home from the hospital. Mother was weary, but proud. Dad was nervous, scared and in awe of having to raise such a small, helpless bundle that couldn’t yet even hold a baseball. Everyone gushed and had to see the baby. They all offered advice; but we don’t really learn how to raise our own children except by experience.

Paradoxically, it seems like forever and yet also seems like the next day, they were starting their first day of school. Dad tried to concentrate while at work, but worried all day about how his little baby was doing. Was she making friends? Did she know where the bathroom was? Did she laugh during lunch and spit food on a classmate? Mother wandered all day in a quieter house, distracted by the emptiness. The day passed. How many more first-days-of-school have flown by since then? Not enough. Soon, it will be the first day of college.

The day in the hospital emergency room is a reoccurring nightmare for the parents. Whether the child had a bad bump, a terrible case of the flu, a broken bone, or whatever other thing that parents fear, the child got through it – probably better than the parent.

The refrigerator used to be covered with “art” and certificates of merit. Now the frig is usually in need of restocking. The swimsuits used to be to tight, that is with the diaper hanging past the edges. Now the swimsuit is simply too tight, at least according to Dad. Now a prom dress looks good on her. Parents staying up all night for feedings and diaper changes has been exchanged for staying up at night worrying because the ‘child’ is ten minutes past curfew. This slowly changes to not having a curfew, because soon they will be in college or at least on their own, and they will make their own curfews – if any.

She won her first argument with her mother, when? He drove the car by himself, when? She went on her first real date, when? Remember when he got into trouble that one time when ...? Remember that sickening phone ring at 3:00 a.m., and it was because they really did run out of gas? Remember that first overnight school trip, when they had so much fun that they didn’t think of their parents at all? Now, we dread the day they will be moving away.

She strolls down the flower-lined aisle with her arm wrapped around the offered arm of her date. They are no longer the little babies that their parents remember. They have grown up. The tear hiding behind Dad’s eyelid is for the joy of what was and for what is to come.