Loosening the Tether

by Mariann E. Danko

My Son did it. He passed his driving test.

The last great frontier in a teen’s journey to independence. 

AND, the beginning of new anxieties for a parent.

Passed Driving Test

I’m beyond grateful he waited till he felt ready and didn’t let peer pressure get to him. There were time’s he regretted still having to rely on me for rides, but I know deep down he knew he made the right decision. I believe this made him a more conscientious and alert driver.

His excursions on his own have just been back and forth to school, although the day he got his license was the prom. Needless to say I was a bit concerned about him driving, fortunately he only had to get to the school where a shuttle was supplied to transport the students to the prom site location.

He will add back and forth to work to the mix, but we have traveled that root multiple times so I’m praying he’s got that down.

I can’t tell you how weird it felt to see him pull away from the house without me in the car. I was beyond happy for him for his accomplishment, but having a small panic attack too.

Driving Away

I have requested he text me when he arrives at his destination or leaves to head home, but that will have to become a learned habit.

To date he is inconsistent about letting me know he got to his destination, but is getting better about letting me know he’s on his way home. It’s a start, and I’ll take it.

There is no way to truly prepare for this day.

Protecting your child is a parent’s number one job, and allowing them to drive a car just seems so anti-protecting, especially the way people drive today. Yes, I know I sound like an old fogey, but even my Son sees it.

It is however necessary in order for the child to grow and become a functioning adult.

Learning how to loosen the tether however is another thing. 

When my Son was young, his Father’s Mother passed on a beautifully framed poem about just that. I have it hanging at the front door as a reminder. Only recently have these words truly started to hit home.


Children Are Like Kites

I see children as kites.
You spend years trying to get them off the ground.
You run with them until you are both breathless.
They crash; they hit the rooftop, you patch and comfort, adjust and they will fly.
Finally, they are airborne.
They need more string; you keep letting it out.
But with each twist of the ball of twine, there is sadness that goes with joy.
The kite becomes more distant.
You know it won’t be long before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline that binds you together and will soar as meant to soar… free and alone.
Only then will you know you have done your job.


As a single Mom with only one child, this has not been easy. I have been very involved in my Son’s life, in a healthy way, but I have been slowly working at letting out the tether, especially since he started high school.

Loosening the reign a little more with each grade, but still holding on tight, not wanting the kite to float away before he was ready.

With each tether loosening I would step back and admire the uniqueness of my amazing Son. In awe of his willingness to be true to who he is at his core, and his growth socially.

When he was in elementary school he was extremely hesitant to participate in class for fear he would be made fun of. Now he is one of the most outspoken kids in class and considered a great contributor.

48026331 - illustration of a teenage guy raising his hand to answer a question

His report cards consistently have additional notes like:

“Is a pleasure to have in class.”
“Participates actively and positively in class.”
“Productive and involved in class.”

Of recent, I have also had acquaintances tell me they thought my Son was a “Neat kid.” and that he was “Well spoken.”

Also noting I’ve done a great job as a parent.

This of course brings me great joy. No matter how many issues we may have battled over the years, how the outer world sees your child is a true reflection of you as a parent.

I’ve always known my Son was a neat kid, but to get validation is a rewarding thing, especially when those words came from his driving instructor.

So, with my Son’s senior year only two weeks away from wrapping up, I am still holding on to that ball of twine. The tether is not completely released, it’s close, but until I drop my Son off at college in August, I will not completely let go.

13325256 - kite flying in a beautiful sky with sun and clouds

I can’t.

I need the Summer to adjust. I think we both do.

I can feel my Son tugging at the twine, but not too hard as to break free.

We both know August will bring great adjustments for both of us and we need to use the weeks between graduation and freshmen move-in-day as a training camp.

Me training to be alone, and my Son training to be independent. Both very scary adventures, but if we face it together I know we will both be fine.

16604476 - two kites flying in the blue sky


© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2018. All rights reserved.

Photos from person collection.

Driving Test – Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_artisticco’>artisticco / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Student Participating – Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_lenm’>lenm / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Hold On Tight – Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_altomedia’>altomedia / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Flying Together- Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_glassbear’>glassbear / 123RF Stock Photo</a>