Friday, July 13, 2007

Jesus Take the Wheel, Please

A coworker took his daughter to get her driver’s license the other day. She passed her test. She gave him a ride back to work, and he watched her drive off alone for the first time. He said it was one of the hardest things he’s done so far as a parent. Hubby and I are about two years away from that day, and that’s still not enough time for me to prepare for that moment. I won’t sleep a wink once Teen Angel turns sixteen. Every sentence I utter to her will end in “drive carefully…don’t have sex….don’t have sex and drive carefully.” Since she will likely read this within the next couple of days, let me repeat that. Drive carefully. Don’t have sex. Oh, and study hard. She goes to high school this fall, and I’m not sure my colon can handle the next four years. What are the worst fears for the parents of a teenaged girl? Cars and boys. What’s most exciting to a teenaged girl? Cars and boys. I expect high school will be like the presidency. Every time we elect a new U.S. President he looks fresh and eager. Halfway through his term he looks as if he’s aged 20 years. It’s a rough gig, and so is parenting. I won’t be fifty when Teen Angel graduates but I’ll look it.

The car thing scares me so much because I have several friends whose teenagers have had serious wrecks. One kid hit a bridge and burned up the car. She’s lucky to be alive. Another had a head-on crash that put her in the hospital for a week and physical therapy for months. I’m telling you. I’m not ready for this kind of worry. I now understand why my mother was so cranky while I was learning how to drive. One of the biggest arguments we ever had when I was a teenager was over driving. I had my learner’s permit and asked her if I could drive home from the grocery store. We had about a ten mile drive between the nearest town (population 3500-Sal-ute!) and our house. For months she had refused to let me drive to town, but coming home she would let me drive once we had turned off the highway and onto our gravel road. This amounted to maybe a mile or a mile and a half. To a fifteen year old a month away from taking her driver’s test that’s nothing. On this particular sticky, June day I asked if I could drive home. She said yes and….proceeded to drive almost all the way home. The farther she drove, the more I stewed in my sour adolescent juices. Once we hit the gravel road, she pulled over and began to trade places. “NO”, I said. “I have mastered this little section of road, thank you, and if that’s the most you can let me drive, then I don’t want to drive at all”. I was FULL of attitude….the kind I hate today. I don’t remember everything that was said after that, but it was pretty ugly. It was one of those moments as a kid when you know you’re stepping over the line but you throw yourself on the sword and jump over the line with both feet anyway because you’re….well, you’re just young and stupid. I never did drive that day. The next time I drove was a couple of days later when I was with dad, and we were in his old Chrysler Imperial. He didn’t really care how much I drove that car because it was indestructible. He let me drive for several miles, and when we got home I made sure that mom knew how far I had driven. She didn’t say a word, although she probably wanted to pinch my head off. I have always thought I won that argument. 27 years later I realize that my prize is worrying about my little punk when she takes the wheel.

1 comment:

Mia said...

18 is the age for a license around this house! But it was still so hard to see her drive away that first day. I said "call me whenever you change locations" this was just so I knew exactly when to worry and pray the most!!!