I have always thought that raising teenagers is like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time you are listening to someone scrape their fingernails over a blackboard again and again. We wanted to be active involved parents. I volunteered in the classroom whenever I could. We joined the PTO. I signed up to be the bus chaperone on the 7th grade band trip. No good deed goes unpunished, isn’t that what they say? The only other parent who signed up was legally blind. My own sweet girl slipped away from my watchful gaze and quickly got on the OTHER bus, heaven forbid the embarrassment of having your mom be your chaperone. When the lights went out, the children (and I use that term loosely) paired up in the back seats. The other chaperone handed me a flashlight and with a wink said, “I’ve been on this bus before.” Her eyesight may have been poor, but she had eyes in the back of her head to make up for it. I was kept so busy shining that flashlight on the smoochers in the back seats that I didn’t have too much time to worry about what was going on in the other bus and sent up a silent prayer that my little angel was sitting in the second row, right behind the chaperones. After seeing the young Romeos in action, I wondered if there were any convents nearby and if they accepted Lutheran girls. The next year, we innocently agreed to host a teenage pool party, our first and last. My husband cleaned the pool and deck. We made piles of food and filled coolers with ice and assorted beverages. We stayed in the main part of the house, making rounds every 20 minutes to make sure there were no shenanigans. The kids had a great time laughing and splashing, only coming in to use the bathroom or to get more ice. We found out the next morning that the nice polite young man who came in to get ice a couple of times was sneaking beer out of our fridge, right in front of our noses, which again proves the fact that parents don’t have to have 20/20 vision, they just need to be smarter than the teenagers. We were fast learners, or at least we hoped we were. I did the driving and picking up for all of the neighborhood kids’ activities, so our daughter was rarely late getting home. When she was, we worried. (I worried out loud, he just paced around the house acting like he wasn’t worried.) She was a good student, but we nosily kept up with her schoolwork, too. When she got her driver’s license, we purchased a car the size of a tank that she referred to as “the land yacht” with a roll of her eyes but it gave her freedom and saved her the embarrassment of having Mom drive her everywhere, so she drove it. My fingernail marks are still on the door handle from the first time I let her drive on the interstate outside of Tampa, Florida, where the speed limit is somewhere around 80 in the slow lane. In the next couple of weeks, there will be kids graduating from high schools and home schools all over the country. Parents, don’t think you got off that easy. They will still need money, advice, your truck, and more money. And food, lots of food. Did I mention money? They will walk across the stage, ready and eager begin their lives as young adults. They will become employees, college students, soldiers, and parents. They will travel, go to parties, and have fun. They will learn from their mistakes, just as we did, and just as our parents did. They will slip away from your watchful gaze and all you can do is hope and pray that they choose the right seat on the bus. I’m certain they will.