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Teenager Ready To Drive?

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I don’t know about you but the thought of purposefully authorizing another teenager to attend a school that teaches them how to get behind the wheel of a car and drive away from home base, is quite daunting. In fact, it has me questioning my own sanity, not to mention my car insurance coverage.

The first time my oldest child came to me and said the words…”I’m ready to get my license,” my knees almost gave out and I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Why… because I had just brought her home from the hospital only 16 years ago. Why… because I’m still a new mom (even after having three children). Why… because I still needed her to need me for everything. Why… because I…wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to be “here” or “there” this soon. I mean, 16 years on this planet does not adequately prepare anyone for what dangers await you on the road. I could almost hear one of my favorite songs, “We’ve Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters (who you would only know if you were blessed to have the dual option of am/fm radio; no CDs’, no MP3 player).  And thanks to Willie Nelson’s hit, “On The Road Again” I remembered my own restraint free, fun wheeling existence far outside my own parents control.

Let me repeat… I had just brought her home from the hospital 16 short years ago. But somewhere along the way at that big, bad, smelly schoolhouse, she got the word that life begins at 15 when you get your “learners permit” and that Sweet 16 represents SWEET FREEDOM. I personally used every great stall tactic I could think of to prolong the time when the original “selfie” would be reflected on a laminated card called a drivers license, declaring her liberty from the restraints of the passenger seat in the mommy van. Of course, her grades were amazing during this time as she knew inherently that I would try and attach the privilege of getting her drivers license to her grades… class by class. She already knew my style as I had given away my strategy having used that tactic a time or two before.

By the time she received her permit, I knew there was no looking back so I resigned myself to make that dreadful call to my insurance agent and asked him the million dollar question (seriously), “How Much Is This Going To Cost Me?” My agent clearly was familiar with this question and had the perfect response… Is she ready? As my agent began to go over all of the different types of coverage’s and limits, all I could hear was, “Is she ready”? Of course we ended up adding her to our policy & of course our insurance went up by almost 90%…ok more like 79 but ouch! It didn’t help that her first car was a BMW sport but years later when she was in a car accident (no fault of hers), that car protected her and my other two children from what would have been much worse.

So, now that my middle child is 16 I hear myself asking that same question again. Is she ready? This is a question I encourage every parent to ask. It is not only your right but in some ways your duty to the rest of the driving community. I can honestly say that she is not quite ready. She is still impatient (perfectionists are), she is easily bored (gifted kids are) and she likes her music nice and loud which is not good when sirens are fast approaching and horns blowing. Oh, she’s smart enough to pass the test…zero doubt there. But in “the real world” you don’t get a do-over and patience is indeed a virtue and no matter how long you yell at the car in front of you to move out of your way or mean-mug the person next to you, there is a huge piece of unforgiving steel and metal that needs a person behind it that understands that they are responsible and accountable for themselves and the other drivers they share a road with. I had very strict rules about how fast to go, when to be home, NO other passengers, must hear everything at all times, no phones, seatbelt at all times etc.  I also had severe consequences built in (grounding a BMW is the equivalent of S.W.A.T. descending out of nowhere – quick, powerful and effective). And of course as any parent does I enjoyed the perks of handing off the duties of running errands, picking up siblings and filling the tank (most women are allergic to stopping for gas).

I have one more child to go, a son. And the fact as you who have sons, brothers, and boyfriends know, is that boys in general come with their own set of worries and rules. Am I ready? I haven’t been ready since day one. But this I do know…when I release these last two into the wild, the answer to the 1st question “Is she/he ready”, will be a resounding yes, they are ready for takeoff !

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