Here is the scene; I am surrounded by what appears to be windows. If I reach up, I encounter a hard surface much closer than ceiling should be but if I reach in front of me, there is nothing but open space. I feel vulnerable and nervous but I cannot react, I need to keep my cool; whoever is watching me cannot know what I am thinking.
Next you would expect to hear spine-chilling music, but no, the next thing I hear is “So, how was your day Mom?”
My response? “Ten and two , Older.”
This is not a scary movie; it is my real life and one of every parent’s nightmares the rights of passage of all parents of teenagers must go through… driving lessons! Dun-dun-daaaaa!
My husband and I agreed long before Older got close to driving that we would not manage this process. We would not bring it up at all in fact. If she wants to drive, she would have to organize it herself. Have I mentioned that oldest has ADD and is easily distracted? I figured we would be pushing her to get her license by the time we need her to start driving us around in our old age! And because parenting is so predictable, a month before her 16th birthday, she came to me with all the info on the driver’s education class she wanted to take, registration completed and a request for a check. What else could I do? I forked over the check. Trust me that was the easy part.
The hard part is watching your baby drive off for the very first time… inching out of the driveway and riding the brakes all the way down the street. Even harder is getting in the car with her, keeping your cool and resisting the urge to stop the car, storm back to the person behind you who is clearly riding your tail because she is doing EXACTLY the
speed limit and threaten his very existence for scaring your baby. Even harder than that is driving by yourself and watching every nut case on the road and knowing that in very short order my baby will be driving amongst them without me or her dad with our extra set of eyes looking for anyone who appears to be weaving, speeding, texting, drinking, talking, or breathing in any fashion that might be dangerous.
We recently flew to Florida and Youngest was nervous about getting on the plane. We spent several weeks prior to the flight assuring her that flying is safe. It is in fact safer than car travel; you are more likely to die in a car than in a plane…. I am really regretting that we had those discussions now.
Older now has about fifteen hours behind the wheel and she has noticeably improved. For instance, she no longer drives in the gutter, threatening to hit the curb or a mailbox every 100 feet, which is a relief! She also seems more confident. Not just behind the wheel, but in general. Which is awesome for my kid who hasn’t always experienced lots of academic success.
Plus we have lots of time in the car. One of the best times to talk with my kids is when we are in the car; we don’t have to look at each other so we they say things that sometimes aren’t always easy. However, like everything, this time won’t last.
Soon enough she will get her license and she will be driving off with her friends. Some days, with a teenage daughter, that sounds like a really good thing. But some days, the sounds I hear are melancholy and faintly reminiscent of You are My Sunshine, one of the many songs that we sang while she sat in the back seat, in her little car seat, when her feet didn’t touch the floor, much less the pedals!