Kids growing up: It's a gradual process.
First, they start going down to the playground at the end of the street. By themselves.
And walking the mile home from school. Alone.
Then, yes, we leave them in the house by themselves while we run to the grocery store, thinking, I don't have much to buy today. It'll be quick.
Then they get older and want to walk to the local Starbucks after school. With friends, of course.
They walk around the mall by themselves while you do some of your own shopping. But that changes. And now you're dropping them off with their friends. To be picked up in three hours. Or so.
And you're always saying "Stay together, even if one of you has to go to the bathroom. Don't talk to strangers. And most definitely, don't be lured by the promise of candy or puppies. Or a Frappucino."
Mom, can we go to a movie? Without you?
OK. But only with a group and the movie has to be an early one.
Now, both of your kids are in high school. They make their own plans and then ask if they can go. On occasion, you have to say no because you want them home for Friday night family dinner. (And you remember your parents doing that to you and your brother. And you're happy that your kids don't make a big stink out of it like your brother did. Or maybe you were the one who did. Age can conveniently change your memory.)
Then all of sudden, it's this past weekend and your son is asking you if he can go to an 8:45 movie. With the guys. And yes, they'll be grabbing dinner beforehand. And he'll pay for it all by himself. Because he's got his tutoring business and is making good money.
Later, you find out that he went to an R-rated movie and didn't get carded. Which is fine, because he'll turn 17 in two months. You're more shocked to find out that there were two girls there.
But all of this is OK because it's happened so gradually that it seems natural.
Because if they went from walking to the playground by themselves to driving to an R-rated movie, you would absolutely, totally, freak out.