It's been a good birthday today: I took the requisite box of pastries in to work and introduced my daughter around to everyone. Then we went in to Amsterdam for the afternoon: the girls wanted to do the Anne Frank house and cruise the shopping areas. Jamie Oliver's "Fifteen" restaurant told me, when I called at three to confirm, that all reservations had been canceled because they rented the place out for a corporate function: could they make me an alternate reservation at another fine restaurant in the area? F*You very much, Jamie. Instead, we had Rice Table at one of the Indonesian restaurants and enjoyed it a lot instead.
The girls liked Amsterdam enough that they want to take the train in to spend the afternoon tomorrow (51 euros for two second class, day return tickets...yike...). It's a good sign: they are gaining confidence to tackle things despite language differences, unfamiliar transportation, and a new city. In turn, I'm gaining confidence in their independence and maturity.
And that's what it all has to evolve to. I've always said that, as a parent, the goal is to help them to become happy, successful, independent adults. In so many ways, that is the dual process of instilling confidence in both of us.
We used to laugh about confidence-builder's when we were on outings together and the kids were younger. How far could you tip a sailboat together without fearing it would fall over? How steep a ski run could we take leaning out over the tips where it belongs? And, on their own: did they trust their judgement in choosing pictures for a class photography portfolio, did they look forward to your turn at bat in baseball? With each try, they learned and sometimes they succeeded, and their confidence grew.
I think that's important, because life brings progressively bigger decisions: driving, dating, choosing what college to attend, deciding to join the service. I don't want to make (or monitor) these decisions for them; I want confidence that they will (confidently) make good choices.
It's been a fun week so far: I haven't lived home with the kids for much of the past 2 1/2 years, and this is very concentrated time together for Laura and I. I've kept things light and undemanding, and she's been engaged and upbeat. And what better present could I ask for on my birthday?