Pay Off


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It took this picture yesterday as my son Camden took his driving test. That’s my car off in the distance leaving the parking lot with him at the wheel. I watched him pull out, execute a few manuevers and drive past me before I thought to take the picture. The picture I wanted was ten seconds earlier as he passed right before me, hands at ten and two and a face of maturing focus. I was late and the moment passed.

I stood on the sidewalk for fifteen anxiety-filled minutes, while Camden drove. I listened to music and tried not to betray my turmoil to anyone that might glance my way. Camden pulled into the parking lot and I quickly, almost subconciously scanned my car for damage (none), and watched intently as the tester emerged from the car for any sign of the result (none). Then Camden came around the back side of the car with an irrepressible smile and understated thumbs up. My face tensed as I battled a sudden dust storm around my eyes. He did it.

Thousands of people got there first driver’s liscence yesterday, but this one was close to me. I was there for the process. The initiative he took collecting all the information he needed, the wheel time he demanded from me over the last twelve months, the demonstrable improvement that wheel time rendered, and the events from last Thursday night till the moment of victory.

We lost his social security card and scoured the house for several hours Thursday night without success. We spent Friday morning at the social security office getting a new card only to learn he didn’t need it to take the test. We raced back to the test center Friday only to be told walk-ins had to be there before 9am. Camden drove a lot this past weekend and was very smooth. On Monday night coming back from his vocal lesson it dawned on me that he was ready and could probably nap in the shotgun seat.

Tuesday morning was a different matter. Camden was terrible on the two mile drive to the test center. I fought the urge to scream “GET IT TOGETHER MAN!”, and settled for some soft platitudes about handling mistakes without letting a single mistake turn into three or four. As Coach Dale said, “we are way past big speech time.”

He didn’t acknowledge his nerves to me until we were waiting for the liscence and he asked if we could stop by the house before I dropped him at school.

“Why? Did you forget something?”

“No. Deoderant.”

“Did you forget to put it on?”

“No but my pits smell cause I was so nervous.”

During the early part of our wait, I listened to a speech Ray Lewis delivered at Elon College. Youtube it. He talked about effort and not being outworked by anyone in his career, but he also spoke of time. It never stops, but we have the choice of what we do with that time. I wish I used my time to take the picture I really wanted to take, but I used my time to be there with my son so that picture will stay in my mind with all the other little moments of the time we spend together.

3 thoughts on “Pay Off

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