So I have a 12 year old. Birthdays are always bittersweet. On one hand each birthday means another year has passed. What happened and what didn't happened, the good parenting moments, the bad parenting moments...they are all gone. Watching my kids grow up means that one day they will indeed be grownups living a life not quite as connected to me as it is during childhood. And that's a good thing. Afterall my goal is to create independent Americans who can prosper on their own without me making all the decisions. Each year that passes I see tangible signs of our children taking steps in the right direction. Each year brings a child who is less and less dependent and more and more an ally. I get to enjoy new experiences with older kids without the hassle of constant hand-holding.