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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



     As an oldest child I have often been perplexed and even abashedly ignorant of the realities of the second or middle child. It is commonly known that oldest children have more stress than their younger siblings. They are the ground breakers, the ones who have to test and push at the boundaries set by their helicopter parents as they try to find that ground between being a child and being grown up.

     On Saturday I stood in the driveway of a home I had never been in before surrounded by people I barely know, in fact most of them were complete strangers to me. My oldest daughter waved from the passenger window of the little blue car as the car pulled away, and I realized that no longer is she a child.

     It has been no secret that I’ve not been really all that enthused about my freshman dating a junior, only because I remember being a boy that age, and in some ways still thinks the way junior boys think. The “relationship” which started around the beginning of school was one that I figured would fizzle and die out long before last Saturday, so other than some kidding around I hadn’t really concerned myself thinking that my little girl would end up going to her first Prom.

     I was gravely mistaken, and should have been more prepared. So on Saturday I walked into her mothers house, where the entire out-law family had gathered to see my daughter sitting impatiently waiting for the hair stylist to show up. As if it wasn’t going to be awkward enough I wasn’t sure I could make it through the next two hours of picture taking without saying something inappropriate.

     I watched as she had her hair done, noting that not only did it take entirely too long to accomplish, but she had more product in her hair than we used to put on cattle fitting them for the show. In fact being the safety-minded individual that I am, I reminded her not to stand near any open flames that evening, lest she come home with some sort of butch hair-do. With the last strand in place and the dress on, she immerged thirty minutes behind (which knowing her mother seems about right), and stood in the entryway as she was preened over and cooed at by the women folk, as though she was some little peanut who had just come home from the hospital.

     Of course the tension was killing me, and I couldn’t let it go on much longer, so being the responsible parent I piped up and said “Do you have condoms?” With a look of awe and shock every face in the room turned to me as though I had just mentioned a big zit that had taken residence on her nose. The oldest looked at me incredulously and responded with a resounding “Nooooooooooooo Dad!” “Good,’ I thought quickly trying to dig myself out of this hole and trying to figure out a way to get out from under the stare of the women folk, ‘If you don’t have them, then you won’t have any use for them…just remember Jesus is watching you.” Now for all you Dad’s out there, I’m going to tell you that reminding your child that Jesus is watching them is really a great way to drive home the point.

     Pictures were taken at the boyfriends house, which seemed to me to be more standing around than accomplishing anything in particular and as I stood there with my middle child I asked if she was going to dispel with all of this nonsense and do her Dad a favor by skipping her own Prom. She laughed in that mischievous way that she does, as though to say, “Oh no…I’m going and it’s going to cost you big time Buck Owens!”

     It was in that moment that I realized that being the second child brings on with it care and concern, not so much in her own behavior but that of her older sibling. It was as though she knew if her older sister screwed this up, that there was no way on earth that Dad would let her out of the house until she was forty! I suppose that is the true reality of the middle child. Complaining that the older child gets so much more responsibility but secretly hopping that not only do they hit one out of the ballpark when given such leeway, but also that they push the boundaries just a bit further, making us as parents just a little more lax and a little less attentive.

     After a bit of trash talking over a handshake with the boyfriend and more than one hug from “Daddy’s not so little girl”; I watched her pull away, off to the Prom and all the adventures that lie before her. Luckily for her younger sister she made it home on time and seemed to come home no worse for wear, but in the end I hope neither one of them thinks that they have lulled this old bear into hibernation. There are many more battles to come, I am sure, and I will be prepared, you can count on that. For in the end, I’m still Dad and they always will be my two favorite girls.

     See you next week…remember, we’re all in this together.