Don't get me wrong; I am glad that Temple is growing up. She is becoming a beautiful young lady. Tonya and I are honored to be her parents.
But the changes are still jarring. The little girl we gave birth to in 2000 now has her opinions and ideas. She fully has embraced the idea of free will and offers daily reminders that, though she loves and respects her parents, she intends to approach life on her terms.
Therein lies the problem. I want Temple to have the freedom to become her own person. At the same time, I want to keep her from making certain mistakes -- mistakes that are obvious to me because I had the misfortune of experiencing them firsthand.
I must admit, my natural tendency is toward being a helicopter dad.
I get real-time alerts from Infinite Campus on my smartphone all day long. When Temple tells me about a problem, any problem, she had at school, I have to fight the urge to immediately insert myself into the situation.
In my mind, I know that I need to step back and let her work some things out on her own. In my heart, she is still a baby that I need to protect.
So every day, I fight an internal civil war over how to be most helpful to my daughter. I want to guide her, but I want her to find her way. I want to insist that she do certain things, but I want her to want to do the things that my experiences have proved important.
It is an ongoing battle. Every day, I wonder whether I came down on the right side of the decisions I faced.
And on days like today, a Sunday cleaning the house in the aftermath of a birthday celebration with a bunch of sixth-grade girls, the reality of the struggle is most pronounced. When Temple looks back over her life, I want her to be able to honestly say that her parents did right by her -- not because we threw great birthday parties or because we bought great birthday gifts but because the lessons we taught her and the guidance we provided served her well.
It won't be long before Temple begins to answer those questions for herself. When she does, I hope we pass the test.
Karl Douglass, Columbus native and resident, is a frequent commenter on local, state and federal politics. Follow him on Twitter@KarlDouglass or facebook.com/karldouglass.