Thursday, July 29, 2010

She Got Her Driver's License, And I'm Never Going To Sleep Again!


My teenager grew a wing today. She passed her driving test with flying colors. Well, maybe "flying" isn't the best choice of words when we're talking about driving, but she's well on her way to a whole new world.

In my view, she really wasn't ready to take her test. She has driven on the freeway only twice, and about three times at night. She still has some issues changing lanes. Tends to take her eyes off the road for too long while she's looking over her shoulder to merge. Scares the hell out of me. She probably would have crashed by now if I hadn't rescued her with all my screaming.

I knew this day was coming, but I stuffed my true feelings deep down in the Land of Denial until the very end. Last night, I told her that I didn't want her to take the test because she needed more practice. She broke down in tears, and blubbered something about how behind she felt with all her peers. Most of her friends have their licenses already. She's a young 16. Her 17th birthday isn't until September, so she feels younger than her friends because she really is.

I felt badly. Really , I did. I don't want my daughter to feel "held back." I want her to grow and blossom and soar to new heights and feel like she can conquer the world and . . . sorry, I ran out of tired expressions. But I also don't want her to die in a car crash because she really isn't ready to drive.

Once I waded through all her tears, I managed to get to the heart of her disappointment. All she wanted, she explained, was to start her senior year being able to announce to her friends, "I finally got my license!" That's it. Bragging rights was her end goal.

So we struck a deal. I told her she could test for her license today, but I wasn't going to let her take the car out, alone, until she and I did some hard-core driving practice for six months. Time to play catch-up. All those times I should have been letting her drive, instead of stubbornly taking the wheel myself, have caught up with us.

I see now that it was advantageous to both of us to have allowed her more time behind the wheel these last six months. My advice to parents? Once your teens get their permits, let them dirve with you as much as possible. Counsel, guide, coach, and yes, scream if you have to -- every opportunity you get because the day will come, like it did for me, when your teen will be ready to sprout her wings. All too soon. And you'll want those wings to be as crash-proof as possible.

We also have an understanding that as soon as she is ready to go solo, I will be installing that new device called "iZUP" in the car, that disables car phones when the car is in motion so that she can't text or take a call while she's driving.

I think "iZUP" should be installed in every single car that rolls off the assembly line. Standard equipment, it should be.

Honey, if you're reading this, I'm proud of you. Excited for you. And worried sick, too. Hey, I'm your mom. What do you expect?

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