Seventeen years ago, the best years of my life began. Seventeen years ago today, Princess Penelope came into this world. I'm not sure I ever knew what life was really about until 8:06 p.m. on July 20, 1994.The last 17 years have been truly amazing. They've been a roller coaster of emotion that I'm sure are parents are familiar with. There have been ups and downs and twists and turns, but so far, its been one hell of a ride!
We did the whirlwind birthday trip/concert/present to Atlanta over the weekend. This evening we'll do a birthday dinner with my family at Princess's favorite restaurant. My Mom's birthday is today, too!
Today, I will wake her up shortly, she will get ready and we will make another trip out to the Department of Public Safety to get her unrestricted driver license. Alabama enacted a graduated driver license law last year --- 20 days before Princess Penelope got her license!
The law didn't really have a huge effect on Princess Penelope because I already had set car rules of my own. I had instituted the one passenger rule on my own, and she started out with a 11 o'clock curfew on the weekends and definitely no phone usage while driving. She earned an 11:30 curfew later in the year. Weeknights were generally 10 p.m., but she rarely went out and did anything on weeknights anyway because of school (Princess likes her beauty sleep!), so that was more of a parameter. School holidays that fell during the week were handled on a case by case basis.
I must say, that Princess Penelope did fabulously. No tickets, no accidents. No reports from friends around town saying she was driving recklessly. (Our suburb is small enough that friends would see her out and about driving around. A periodic check of her cell phone records showed that she wasn't talking or texting while driving.
She's earned her unrestricted license. She never missed curfew --- came close once because a movie got out late. She called me before she left the theater, because she still had to drop a friend off. I told her not to speed, not to get stressed, follow the rules of the road and if she was a couple of minutes late she would not be in trouble. She got home at 11:30 on the dot. We discussed that sometimes things happen, and that she did the right thing by calling instead of speeding to make curfew. No harm, no foul.
However, many of the rules will stay in place. Curfew will still be 11:30, but may be stretched to midnight on a STRICTLY case by case basis. I will permit her to take one additional passenger for the time being. That may be stretched to 3 total passengers at a later date. The cell phone use is non-negotiable.
So, here we are with another milestone. My sweet little baby girl is taking yet another step towards adulthood. But in my mind's eye, I can still see that sweet little wriggly bundle with a head full of hair and the longest eyelashes you've ever seen, with her little bitty fist wrapped around my pinkie finger. They do grow up.