Are we there yet? Are you there yet?
OMG. Driving lessons for my younger son. Lately he’s so, um… distracted. He’s got a pile of school work, SAT prep classes, piano, art, tennis, after hours tutorials, and… yep, the girl. Give me pause. And strength. Or extra strength Tylenol.
Been there, done that, sorta
It’s not the first time I’ve taught a kid to drive. I taught my elder son a few years back. Surely that experience will help, won’t it? Hmmm. But I’m dealing with a very different personality type this go-round. As usual, with my younger son, I’m not sure what to expect.
We’ve barely begun; he’s listening carefully and not taking risks. Gotta love that! But we have a long way to go, even as we discuss lights, intersections, weather conditions, positioning mirrors, city traffic, driving into sunlight – and more – like no cell phone use, as I sit behind the wheel and he observes from the passenger seat.
How much is he taking in?
Where’s a damn horse and buggy when you need one?
Though I keep wishing he was still enthralled with a brightly colored little kid car – where the worst that could happen would be a tumble, a skinned knee, and a band-aid – those years are gone. They were long, very physical, and a bit of a blur – especially with two rambunctious boys close in age!
The “other guy”
Explaining to your 16-year old that you trust his judgment sounds great, but every time a teen gets behind the wheel, it’s a worry. Defensive driving is a matter of experience, like so much in life. And also, an issue of the “other guy.” Teaching kids to anticipate the unexpected is difficult; they simply can’t imagine the drunk driver, the blown tire just ahead, junk in the road, a child dashing out into the street, or some jerk who runs a red light and destroys lives.
Our worries, their best interests
These teen years are easier in some ways, and oh-so-much-worse in others. We worry, constantly. We call upon all gods-of-patience-in-the-universe. We seek words enough to get through. And we bear responsibility not only for their physical selves, but their dreams and emotions which are still formative, and fragile.
The trouble is, we remember being their age.
It goes with the job
We can’t predict futures, and we can’t protect our kids from living their lives. We guide, we advise, we fix what hurts we can; we teach by example, we monitor, we explain about minimizing risk. Then we let them fly, hoping for the best.
But worrying goes with the job. My mother tried to tell me that when I was in my twenties, but I wasn’t a parent yet. I didn’t get it then.
I get it now.