Those 15-Year-Old Drivers
When my daughter turned 15-years old, she, like any other typical 15-year old, wanted to get her driving permit. My husband took her to the DMV on his day off to wait in Huntsville’s finest local government facility. The Girl passed her driving license permit test the first time. I was proud.However, this also meant that I now had to teach her how to drive a motor vehicle. To my surprise, I was calm when I took her to the mall parking lot on an early Sunday morning so she could sit in the driver’s side of the car and test it out.
She waited patiently for me to become more comfortable as she took the time to adjust the mirrors, the seat, and so on. The Girl did very well that first time.
Weeks later, we moved on to quiet neighborhoods with minimal car movement from others. I’ll admit that this slow progression was not for her benefit, but for mine. Again, I was surprisingly calm. The Girl turned out to be a great driver.
When she turned 16 and had been through the summer driver’s education program, The Gent took her to the DMV once again so she could get her real driver’s license. All the while when she drove the car with me in it, it was no big deal. I was good with that. I let her drive quite often. But then the time came for her to drive the car by herself, you know, without me in it. She would be out on the streets by herself, driving the car, alone.
It’s not that I didn’t trust her; it was the other crazies out there that I didn’t trust, for the most part anyway. Finally, The Gent had to make me sit at home while he sent The Girl on an errand. He sent her to his mother’s house, just 3 miles up the road, to return something we borrowed. “I am not ready,” I told him. My stomach did flip flops while my palms sweated. My heart was in my throat but I let her do it. I let her get in the driver’s side of the car and take off down the road without me. It was terrifying.
After what seemed like an hour of pure torture, and turned out to be only about 20 minutes, she returned,just fine. It was a little less painful each time to send her back out again, and again, and again.
Now? I am so grateful and thankful she drives. When I am too lazy to go to the grocery store for a gallon of milk, The Girl gladly goes for me. And apparently I am lazy a lot.
I know, we are the big bad evil terrible parents for not outright buying our child a car of their own like every other parent seems to do for their child. But I digress, the point here is that I made it through the dreaded teaching-a-teenager-how-to-drive-a-car phase of parenting. My son turned 15 several months ago but he is away at military school. Still, I know there will come a day, very soon, when he will be home and he will want to go get his driving permit too.
Will I be less fearful because I’ve already been through it with one child? Absolutely not, it will terrify me all over again. I promise I don’t remember terrifying my parents this much.