P.O. Box 1387 (30298) 121 Royal Dr. Forest Park, GA 30297
On Valentine’s Day, my daughter, Jessica, will turn 19 years old. Even as I write it, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea. I start thinking back to when I was that age — dating, working two jobs, and teaching karate on the side — and I find it so hard to believe my little girl has reached that part of her life. She’s certainly using her time effectively. Since she’ll be going off to college this fall, Jessica is using the time she has left to work and travel. Almost every month since she graduated high school, she’s gone somewhere, whether on family trips, to conferences with me, or around north Georgia with her friends from church. I certainly don’t begrudge her making the most of her youth before the pressures of school and adulthood step in. She’s also learning the value of a dollar. Since she was 15, Jessica has helped out at Pye-Barker, and this period between high school and college has given her plenty of time to work hard and save up for her future. As a business owner, I always felt like I couldn’t spend as much time with my daughter as I’d like to. I had to work long hours at the office to support us, which meant much of the time I was getting home as she was going off to bed. Now we can take our lunch breaks together and talk about anything and everything. Jessica has taken after her old man in that we both love to read and fall a little more on the nerdy side, so a lot of our conversations revolve around fantasy novels or the “Doctor Who” series. While I cherish these chances to nerd out with my daughter, we also find the time to have real heart-to-hearts. Knowing she’s growing up, I do my best to encourage her to be a critical thinker. I’m happy she feels comfortable coming to me with questions about everything from boys and alcohol to what she wants to do when she grows up. If you’re the parent of a young ANOTHER YEAR OLDER MY LITTLE GIRL HAS GROWN UP
adult, I don’t need to tell you how precarious these conversations can be, but I’m always happy to have them.
My philosophy has always been not to dictate to Jessica. I try to ask her thought-provoking questions and play devil’s advocate, but I never want to prescribe life choices for her. I’d rather have a child who thinks about the way they think and feels empowered to make their own decisions in life. Jessica has proven her ability to do this in spades. At the close of last year, she was waiting for a friend who was supposed to come from college to see our church’s annual Christmas performance. His dorm was up in North Georgia, but he was having car trouble and his parents couldn’t pick him up until later in the evening. With our permission, Jessica drove all the way up to Dahlonega on her own for the first time. At church, another longtime friend of Jessica’s could tell I was watching the clock and getting a little antsy for her return. He made his way over and told me, “If there’s one person in this world you can trust, it’s the daughter you raised.” Sure enough, Jessica made it back from her rescue mission with time to spare. I may have a hard time wrapping my own head around it, but there’s no question that my daughter has grown into a responsible, independent woman.
Here’s to all the parents out there doing their best for their kids.
800-282-9784 • www.pyebarker.com
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