My 16-year-old daughter wrecked her car last week.

She lost control, went down an embankment and through a fence. One of the fence posts came around and obliterated a back window.max2

Thank goodness she was not hurt. But that fact didn’t make the whole situation any easier for her old man to handle.

The accident tore up her car pretty badly. And despite the fact that she escaped unhurt, my daughter was devastated. She worked all summer, saved up her money and bought ‘Max’ herself. She tried to put on a strong face, but I could tell by the shakiness in her voice over the phone that she was struggling to hold it together emotionally.

She was really upset.

Anybody who has kids will understand this: no matter how old they are, when one of your babies becomes upset, you become upset.

My first impulse was to wave my magic wand and make everything better. But I don’t have a magic wand. And I couldn’t make everything better. That’s just a fact of life. Sometimes circumstances suck. And no matter how badly you WANT to make them better or wash it all away, you can’t. We simply don’t have that kind of control over the universe.

My second impulse was to make sure my beautiful daughter never finds herself in that kind of danger again! I started thinking; what can I do to keep her safe? Take away the car keys forever? Keep her inside the house? Maybe wrap her in bubble-wrap!

But then I had to stop and reel myself in. What kind of life will my daughter have with her daddy hovering over her every second trying to ensure her safety? She would quickly become miserable. And so would I. A 16-year-old girl needs some freedom and independence. She can’t have that if daddy takes away her keys. She can’t have that cooped up inside the house. As for the bubble-wrap idea, it would make it really difficult for her to compete in cross country – something she loves.

I might – just might – be able to keep her safer.

But I would steal her life.

Do you see what I’m getting at here?

Freedom and independence is a risky business. We can easily get hurt as we make our way through this dangerous world. But we all ultimately yearn for that freedom and independence. We all ultimately want to to choose. We all ultimately want liberty.

Sometimes we get scared and we demand safety. But it doesn’t take long before we begin feeling hemmed in, especially when somebody else dictates the actions to ensure our safety. We quickly realize that excessive caution only increases the safety factor slightly, and it holds us back from going after our dreams.

You can’t do a double twist vault without risk.

You can’t start your own business without risk.

You can’t even cross the street without risk.

Here’s the truth. I can’t guarantee Sinead’s safety.

But I sure could make her life miserable trying.

Something to think about in a world of NSA spying, TSA groping and nanny-state lawmaking.