Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Riding in Cars with Teens

Our middle child is six weeks away from getting her driver's license.  She's been through the driver's ed course, has passed both the written and driving test mandated by the state, and now waits (impatiently) for her 16th birthday to roll around.

Oh God, how I hate this stage.

While I support all growth opportunities for my children, I am not a fan of riding with my kids.  At the beginning of this little adventure I tried arguing that I had taught all three kids to read so it was my husband's job to teach them to drive. For the most part he has honored this, but since I work from home I am usually the one riding shotgun to sport practices and after school events with the 15-year-old and their brand new learner's permit.

You'd think having been through this before with our oldest child, it would be no big deal.  Teen drivers are by turns overly cautious and frighteningly optimistic about road conditions and their driving skills so they need lots of practice. Two licensed drivers down (well, once my daughter hits magic 16), with only one to go, and no accidents yet (knock on wood).

Yet there is something about putting my life (and insurance rates) in the hands of a child I gave birth to that makes me a little nervous.  It's not that either child has ever been a "bad" driver (inexperienced yes, reckless no). It's just that I've always been responsible for them:  their health, well-being, manners, everything.  So when they get behind that wheel with me in the passenger seat, they may be in control of the car, but if they hit a cat, run a red light, or even dent the bumper, it's partly my fault.  Because I am the licensed driver overseeing them, but also because I am their mother.  I know, this is my own weird hang-up, but there it is in all it's weirdness.  These are my babies, it is my responsibility to keep them safe.  But how can I keep them safe if I'm not in control?

And there it is, the real reason I have such a problem with this whole process.  I have to let go and trust that they can do this on their own.  Oh poop, being a parent is hard.

I am actually looking forward to my daughter getting her license because then I will not have to ride with her anymore. I plan on blaming any of her mistakes on the driving school... or her father. 

(For the record, she's an excellent reader.)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Dog's Breakfast

My self-imposed Facebook fast is almost over (6 hours and 45 minutes to go, but who's counting?) and now is the time for me to reflect on what I did during my six weeks in the desert of no social network.

(I did try out some Instagram-meh-and I attempted a little Twitter but it was too ADHD for me.)

I watched quite a bit more TV ("Rehab Addict" and "The Rachel Maddow Show" topped the list.  I am now well informed about politics, but want to buy old houses.

I meant to write more...yeah, did't happen...but I did read some new and interesting books.  Normally I don't read many mysteries (I have a hard time warming up to a genre that centers around someone dying) but I picked up a book from my library's "Best Bets" shelf that I found intriguing.  Louise Penny's The Long Way Home is part of a series centering around a homicide inspector in Quebec.  The story had well developed characters and several other story lines going on besides just a dead body (that doesn't show up until the end).

Two of the main characters are artists and the discussion of how they approach their creations becomes an important turning point for the story.  One woman says her first attempts at paining were a mess, like a "dog's breakfast"--a confusing jumble of what she was trying to convey.  But the fact that she put it all out there, trying a new approach to art, made it a worthwhile process.

At this point I realized my writing is sometimes like the dog's breakfast (my dogs eat Beneful for breakfast and dinner, in case you're wondering).  My process often involves me just throwing it all out there and seeing what sticks.  Sometimes some stuff sticks that really shouldn't and I try to scrape off what I can.  But it doesn't have to be perfect--especially at the start--it just has to be started.  Because those dogs are hungry.  (I really don't know where I'm going with this now, but the fact is that I'm going.)

I also realized that since I wasn't sharing my blog posts on Facebook (since I'm still on my Facebook Fast) very few people are actually reading this anyway (except my mom--Hi Mom!).  Dance like no one's watching and write like no one's reading--except the one person who is biologically pre-disposition to think you're special anyway.