OPINION: Four words that changed me as a parent forever
'I got my learners, Dad.'
My teenage son phoned me last week and I immediately realised the next chapter in my role as a parent was about to begin.
I could detect a sense of exuberance in his voice that I hadn't heard from him since all those years ago when he still looked forward to the fat guy turning up at Christmas time.
I could hear in his voice my boy was genuinely excited and proud of himself.
Which in itself caused an element of surprise for me because getting any sort of response with some element of emotion from a 16-year-old is a rare occurrence.
Anyone with teenagers will attest that getting a response from your kids with more than two words is about as rare as snagging a Hastings Street parking spot on your first go.
We were never like that when we were growing up, obviously.
So when I answered the phone and my boy enthusiastically uttered those four words I was gobsmacked.
I couldn't help but pause.
In one sentence, my life as a parent changed forever.
16-and-a-half years flickered in front of my eyes, like something you might see in a Hollywood movie.
He can't be allowed to drive, I thought to myself, he's still a little baby.
But now was not the time to reminisce.
Now was the time to praise my son for this monumental step in his journey through life.
But I'd be lying if I didn't say I was even just a little bit concerned.
Not because in just a few short months he would be a fully fledged Queensland registered driver, alongside all the other unstable, delirious, crazy people, like his father.
But because when I looked at his unsmiling photo on his still-warm learners licence, I realised he is no longer my little boy.
And his complete independence is sneaking up closer and closer with the completion of every stressful driving lesson we have together.
I take my hat off to all parents, especially those currently doing their best to teach their kids how to drive.
Like many things we are required to do as a parents, we are just doing our best.
Sometimes our best is about as useful as trying to scratch your nose when both your hands are bringing in the weekly groceries.
But we persevere anyway.
So as I get out of the passenger side of my car after another driving lesson with my son, I will soon raise a very strong, yet completely necessary, scotch in your honour.