I am now the proud mother of a teenage driver. The past year that we have spent helping her to better her driving skills has been interesting. She turned 16 and I’m now happy to let her drive alone. Why? How can I stand letting her drive by herself, away from me? It’s not as hard as I thought it would be. We’ve been busy for a long time with this whole driving thing.
Years ago, she would sit in her dad’s lap and steer the car. When she out grew Dad’s lap she’d be allowed to drive the last block to the house. (We live out in the country.) As soon as she was old enough to get her permit and start driving legally, with an adult in the car, she drove. The rule was, “if you’re in the car with me, you drive.” This meant that she drove over an hour several days a week. This was rain or shine, day or night, almost no exceptions. She drove to and from dance, to and from the store, to and from the homeschool COOP. She drove in the snow, and in storms too. My philosophy was for her to have every possible chance to mess up before she went out on her own. So when it came time to give up riding with her, I knew she would be ok.
What was I like as a passenger? I had to learn to tell her what she was needing to correct in a language that she understood. This meant I couldn’t yell. I couldn’t freak out or lose my temper. If she was going to remain calm, I had to remain calm. As the year progressed I quit talking. I’d merely suggest something if it seemed necessary. Something softly spoken, like, “watch your speed,” or “you’re riding too close,” or “the road looks slippery”. Most of the time these small suggestions did all that was necessary. Yes there have been times when my right foot went to the brake and found nothing but air. There have been times when I nearly crawled out of my seat trying to back away from the windshield. But mostly, there were times when she’d ask me where to park, and I’d make her choose. Or times when we were going somewhere she knew and I wouldn’t give her directions.
I’m very proud of my baby girl, who is most definitely not a baby any more. I trust she’ll make mostly right decisions, and I pray for her safety every time she goes somewhere. I count the seconds for her to check back in and tell me she got there safely. But she doesn’t have to know all of that. What she needs to know is that I love her. (And I’m glad she’s driving, not me.)