Yesterday, Balder, Bohdie and I sat on a bench outside the grade school, waiting patiently for my 7-year old daughter, Lindsay, to emerge from the building. Finally, she appeared and dropped the bombshell: she wanted to make the ½ mile walk home — alone. I struggled to maintain my cool at this very literal leap towards independence but I managed to croak out a very nonchalant “Sure!” – even though I wasn’t. Turns out Lindsay wasn’t so sure either…she looked up at me and said – a little nervously – “Really?” Realizing that we needed some form of compromise for both of us to cross this metaphoric bridge to tweenhood, I suggested that Bohdie and I hop in the minivan and drive ahead, casually waiting at each corner. She nodded. I nodded. We were off.

I rolled slowly forward, keeping a close eye on the rearview mirror. Lindsay walked slowly – a little cautiously – her eyes trained on the minivan and its familiar cargo. She stopped to play in the gravel for a minute and my hand hovered on the door handle…is she giving up? Bailing? Should I rush out and swoop her up? After a 15-second eternity during which I swung through a stunning number of scenarios, Lindsay stood up, dusted her hands on her skirt and headed home.

During our 20-minute trip, Balder never pulled his head inside. He was perplexed and slightly dismayed at this development: Why was the Lindsay puppy out there alone? Is this a good idea? But it was Bohdie who almost broke my heart. “Lindsay doesn’t need us anymore?”

Growing up is hard on grown-ups.