We were hurtling down a back country road where the ditches drop as far down as the Grand Canyon on each side of the black top. With my feet braced against the dashboard and a death grip on the door handle, I managed to pry open one eye just in time to see a jogger run past the car.
“Are you done now,” said my 15 ½-year-old daughter in the driver’s seat on her maiden voyage.
It had only been 11 minutes since her driver’s permit had popped out of the machine. I thought we could spend a few weeks admiring it, talking strategy, reviewing the rules of the road and maybe watching a couple driving videos.
Somehow I found myself strapped into the passenger seat. It was terrifying. I have never concentrated so hard when I was not driving. I couldn’t even swallow.
I realized a few things in the weeks that followed when we were out on the open road. In no particular order:
Objects in the mirror are definitely closer than they appear. Especially mailboxes.
For 15.5 years I have used limited swear words.
I was not meant to teach people how to drive.
Younger siblings are not helpful shouting out driving directions from the back seat.
It is impossible to change lanes without completely stopping.
I am marketing a new fitness routine. Have your new driver park the car and then enjoy the two-mile walk to the store, because they can’t park near another car, human, trash can, cart return or fly.
“Aaaaahhhhhh!” can effectively convey “There is a trash can sticking out in the road that you should probably swerve to avoid after you make sure no one is coming in the lane you are about to swerve into.”
I could successfully land a Boeing 747 with my “stay-in-the-middle-lane” hand signals.
As I settled in to this new normal, I realized that the worst part about this driver’s license was not actually the driving. It was what it represented. This new freedom was just one step closer to her setting out on her own and moving away from me. As we cruised down the highway (side street) with the radio on, Charlie Puth summed up everything I wanted to say, but couldn’t. Not that a teenager with a driver’s license would listen anyway.
“No matter where you go, you know you’re not alone … I’m only one call away.” (But not while you’re driving!)
I’m trying to be OK with this next step in life. And for now, as long as we keep it at about 30 miles per hour, I’ll be just fine.