Monday, November 03, 2014

Driving Crazy

I got my license on the day that I turned 16 years and 6 months old. The exact day.
I happily stood in the long line at the Registry of Motor Vehicles just begging for the opportunity to drive a stick shift in the snow and parallel-park on a steep hill in a car with iffy brakes. Still, it couldn’t come fast enough for me. Freedom from the 10-speed bike!
But time moves on and things change, and by that, I mean we parents are complete suckers. Or at least I am. My daughter is in no particular rush to get her license because she has the luxury of being chaffeured around to wherever she wants to go, at the moment the need arises. Walk? You must be joking. It’s so hard to take a decent selfie while walking. And sometimes you get tired.
So, we’ve got the learner’s permit and the driver’s education classes have begun. I even had the pleasure of attending the parent class and sitting through two hours of a retired state cop explaining, in painstaking detail, the seriousness of each motor vehicle infraction and the virtues of green driving. My husband was conveniently unavailable for that honor.
He is available, however, to take my daughter driving. I am making darn sure of it because I am no longer available. Or willing. Truth is I’m a miserable excuse for a driving instructor. I become a monster, really. I’m like Simon Cowell during the “American Idol” auditions using phrases like, “That turn was miserable!” “What a dreadful stop!” and “Are you serious? You call that driving?” You can imagine the response I get. We come back like bloodthirsty gladiators ready to fight to the death. It’s a great mother-daughter bonding experience.
Dad, by all accounts, is much more patient. He can bite his tongue and say nothing when she rolls through a stop sign or forgets to use her blinker or misses the brake pedal entirely. He can ignore her looking at herself in the visor mirror or singing loudly to a Sam Smith song or waving to a cute boy on the street. Mom just doesn’t have that kind of self-restraint. Or enough medication.
But at least I know my limitations — I am not meant to drive with a permitted teen. Ever. In fact, I would rather ride the Green Line naked at rush hour than drive with a permitted teen. It’s that bad for me.
By all accounts, not mine, my daughter’s driving abilities are coming along nicely these days. My husband said she is getting more confident and skilled; she actually knows which way to turn the wheel when she is backing out of a parking space. This is progress, trust me. She has even asked if she can drive on a few occasions, just never with me. (As Simon would say, “It’s a no for me!”)

So time moves forward, and the day is coming — not the actual day, of course — she could have had her license six months ago. But it’s coming in a maybe-sometime-relatively soon sort of way. And I have to be ready because my daughter believes that when she returns home with said license in hand, there will be a brand-new, shiny automobile waiting for her in the driveway, maybe with one of those big red bows like you see in the commercials. There are probably some puppies and rainbows in this fictional scene, as well.
I told her there is a much stronger likelihood of a beat-up minivan sitting under a cloud of dust that she can occasionally borrow. Hey, not everything is like the fantasy version. Better to learn now.
So another milestone in our household has arrived. It’s bittersweet to see my daughter poised and ready to take on adult responsibilities. And my role is to continue to push her out of the nest with the greatest of care. Knowing she’ll soar to great heights. Whether on foot, train, plane or even in the beat-up minivan. 
Oh, the places you’ll go. Oh, the places you’ll go!

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