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.)

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