Lately, out of the blue, my teen will surprise me with with a mature, thoughtful question or remark.

On a recent long drive to see a potential college, she suddenly had quite an interest in stuff that I happen to know a thing or two about. Why do we pay taxes? How do you pay them? Why would you get a student loan? What’s interest? Do you really need insurance to drive a car? Can you get a loan for a car? What’s depreciation? How could you be friends with your ex-boyfriend?

Of course these are logical things to be thinking about a year and a half before high school graduation and heading out into the world. Some of it I think she does know about but has never thought was relevant to her. They studied interest percentages in math, for instance, but it probably seemed abstract and unimportant at the time.

I always knew, or hoped, that her phase of utter disinterest in anything I think or know wouldn’t last forever. But how amazing it felt to see myself moving, slightly, in her eyes from the “pays the bills but otherwise useless” category into something more. “Maybe he knows a bit about life.”

It’s a lovely feeling to put my shields down, to remember that she wasn’t always this fiery being lobbing incoming grenades. I still need the armor sometimes. I am thin-skinned, and one needs protection as these little beasts separate, differentiate, and do their best to kick you in the metaphorical nuts. Her brother is entering this tunnel, and he learned from the best. So it’s not like it’s smooth sailing from here.

But what a boost to remember that I once was someone who seemed to my kids to know everything. While it’s doubtful I’ll get back to that perch, and I probably wouldn’t want to, it’s delightful to feel that I might get some of my cred back.