Teenage Driver: Get Off the Road!

teendriving002Ok, so it’s really not as bad as that.  Teen2 is learning how to drive.  She technically hasn’t been on any major roads yet; her tutoring has been kept within parking lots and short, back roads. She is improving every time she gets behind the wheel. Can’t ask for more than that. Right?

Yeah, right.

As I am pitching in to help Teen2 learn how to drive, I am beginning to see parallels between teaching her how to drive and life.

See, here’s the thing. My husband and I plan to give Teen2 my car (a Sebring convertible) for her sixteenth birthday next year. Sure, that may come off as spoiling her, but honestly, it’s practical. She can’t take the bus to school, and frankly I’m getting tired of playing chauffeur to and from school, soccer practice, shopping, etc. By giving her my car, she can be independent and not rely on us for a ride (thank God) and then I will get a new car. Yay!

I should be excited. I should be jumping for joy that I don’t have to deal with driving everywhere, constantly changing my schedule to fit her busy lifestyle, and I should be really looking forward to getting a new car. Right?

Again, yeah, right.

I like my car. Teen2 doesn’t like my car anymore because it’s long, sits low to the ground, and has really bad blind spots. Logically, that’s not the best case scenario for a new driver. I’m one hundred percent sure she is going to crash it within the first two years of driving. Whether her fault or not, I know it’s going to happen. There goes my baby Sebring. (sigh).

The only way around this dilemma is to get her a smaller, compact car like an older Chevy Cobalt, Honda Civic, or some other relatively smaller vehicle. Which means I get to keep my car, but then I won’t be able to get a new. Hmm… I can live with that. After all, as I mentioned earlier, I do like my car.

So, Teen2 gets a new-to-her car. Great. She will still be driving around in it. On the roads. Around stupid idiot drivers. Among texters and email checkers behind the wheel. On busy highways with 18-wheelers.   In parking lots around other new and young drivers.

Will she be able to put her phone away and not text? Will she be safe on the roads, check twice for motorcycles, and come to a complete stop at stop signs?   I won’t know. I won’t know because I won’t be in the car.

At first, I thought it was going to be really hard teaching her how to drive. A brand new “driver” (one who has barely driven anything) is getting behind the wheel of my baby Sebring. I have to sit in the passenger seat, pump my fake break, and grab hold of the “Oh-Sh**” bar on the door without making it too obvious I’m terrified she’s driving.

I really thought that was going to be the hardest part.

But, noooo. It’s not. The hardest part so far is relinquishing the control I have over her safety by not being in the car at all once she gets her license. That’s terrifying.

So, as I make the parallels between giving up physical control of my vehicle, I realize that I also have to give up the metaphoric control of her life. I have to trust she will be safe, I have to trust her judgment on the roads, and I have to trust that we have done everything we could to prepare her to be a good driver and make good decisions. As much I dislike carting her around the whole city, at least I know she arrived at her destination unscathed and she gets home from the same place I left her unscathed.

This opens up a new can of worms in our lives, which I suppose is going to be an eternal constant in life. It’s always changing. Once one door closes another opens, blah blah blah.

It could be worse for me. At least I’m not her dad who will have to worry about the freedom of his sixteen year old daughter driving around in her own car. Now that I mention it, I’m actually glad I’m not her dad and I’m glad I’m not her either. Been there, done that, threw away the t-shirt.


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