Our Story Begins:
The Drive to Move Forward
I experienced something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. Totally different from my own personal experiences, totally unnerving and spectacularly terrifying.
My middle daughter learning to drive.
Yep. That rite of passage confounds me on two very different fronts. The first, and most obvious, is the fact that my heart seems to be permanently beating at about 1,500 rpm. (That’s down from an even 2,000) It’s simultaneously scary and frustrating to try and educate this one-time little girl to drive a metal-encased bullet with a seat inside down through an asphalt maze.
The other, though, is a phenomenon I never thought I’d see. Not ever.
You see . . . when I turned 15, I begged, pleaded, asked, and annoyed the hell out of my parents every…single…day until I was old enough to get a learner’s permit. Once I got it I begged, pleaded, asked and annoyed the hell out of my parents ever…single…day to drive with them even to the grocery store. When I turned 16 . . . the day I turned 16 . . . I was trying to get to the DMV before it opened just so I could get my license and be free to drive wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. That license wasn’t a card with ID on it or a license to drive it was a ticket to freedom!
So imagine my consternation when my daughter had no desire whatsoever to learn how to drive. Seriously. None whatsoever.
Things, by the way, are totally different now. In my day I could go to Driver’s Ed classes after school and learn to drive and it cost a little but it was a class. It was all-encompassing and it helped to lower insurance payments. Today, however, there’s the permit, which you are eligible to begin learning to get at 15 . . . and then you have to wait a certain period of time after the permit to actually get a license. By the way, you have to do an online portion of your test first and then do driving classes with a state-registered company that costs something like $300 and then log your hours that you drive as well.
So, that being said, wouldn’t you still want to drive as quickly as possible?
Not my daughter. In fact . . . not a lot of kids of this generation, it seems. There are interns at my work – college-age kids – who didn’t start driving until recently. Other kids in my daughter’s class; kids in my oldest daughter’s college; none of them wanted to drive. None of them even had a desire. It baffles me.
I get it’s scary. I also get that it’s easier not to drive. I also get that I loved the ability to ask for the car keys, get them, go with my friends, and have a Saturday night where my Dad wasn’t driving me around.
I think we’ve coddled and driven and over-extended our kids’ lives so much that we don’t encourage that one thing every kid has to do eventually: crave their own freedom. They should want those experiences. They should, even though we claim we don’t want them to, get into trouble, be goofy, and test boundaries. I, however, had to force my daughter to do this, partially because it’s a necessary evil for me.
Driving to sporting events, picking up kids from student council, going to get someone who is sick at school, those are all things that are so much easier when there’s another person with a driver’s license to do it. So in the scariest of events, I’ve been going to the grocery store, guitar lessons, and a myriad of other places with my daughter at the wheel.
Just thinking about it makes my heart rate creep closer to that 2,000 rpm again . . .
What do you think? Are we coddling our kids? Do you want them to start driving when they are able to do so?