Kendall Jenner's Sweet 16 Gift Is Refreshingly Normal for a Kardashian

Kendall JennerIt's not often that I can feel out and out sympathy for a member of the Kardashian klan. But I tend to make an exception for Kim & Ko's little sisters. Kendall Jenner is a teenager growing up in the spotlight, and every single thing her parents do for her is treated to intense speculation. But it turns out Kendall is spending a lot of time being a pretty normal teen.

Take Kendall's new car -- a gift for her 16th birthday. While the world is busy snarking on Kris and Bruce for going overboard for the sweet 16, let's get real. Sixteen-year-olds across this country get wheels for their birthday, and nobody blinks an eye. I say good for the Jenners.

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Yes, the very idea of my daughter ever controlling two tons of metal scares the pants off of me. Not to mention the idea of having to shell out for a car, then turn around two years later and find the funding for tuition leaves me cold (something the Jenners don't have to deal with -- lucky them).

But don't you remember your first car? The wind in your hair? The feeling that the possibilities were endless? There's a reason for the recent trend that's sent boomers with too much time on their hands in search of old rust buckets to restore them to their first taste of independence. It's symbolic, but it's also life-changing.

I was so entranced in the ability to escape the soul-sucking drudgery of being cooped up with people I couldn't stand on a bus that I could pretend my old hand-me-down minivan was really the phat whip (yes, that was my era, and I've got the photos of me grunged out in my wide-leg jeans and over-sized tops to prove it) of my dreams. My car got me out. It gave me my own space, where I could close myself off from the world, from boys, from bullies, from high school girl drama. I had a place to learn to be comfortable with myself, and a place where I was completely in control: where else do teens have that? Certainly not in a high school!

Unlike Kendall Jenner's folks, my parents more or less had to give me a vehicle. I was a senior in high school at 16, with an internship at the local paper in the mornings and school in the afternoons. With two working parents, there was no way for me to get from A to B unless I was driving. It was a matter of convenience as much as it was a privilege.

And yet, it was a privilege that I took seriously. I screwed up. Whoa did I screw up. But even in doing so, I was learning about myself, my limitations and my choices. I learned that it was better to say "no" to friends than to risk driving in a snowstorm. I learned that I could control my temper in the house because the threat of losing my car was just so great.

Giving your kid a car might sound to you like your spoiling them, treating them even more like a kid. That's what people are saying about the Jenners today, that they're just lavishing their sweetie with big gifts instead of focusing on the hard part of parenting. But isn't part of parenting forcing them to take hold of their independence?

Do you think the Jenners are acting like normal average parents here?

 

Image via Getty Images/Jason Merritt

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