Tag Archives: Teens

Driven Crazy!

CarMomGirl2Our children are grown, and their offspring have not yet reached their teens—a comfortable stage for all involved.

But that will change the day their oldest turns 16.

How can I forget that era? Our teens learned to drive. My husband and I learned to pray.

Our kids were responsible. So why did the sight of a driver’s education car squeeze my stomach even more than the course fees?

Some blame rests on Mr. Doom, my long-ago driver education teacher. His first words: “I don’t like women drivers.”

Among four 16-year-olds, we could not scrape up a single Y chromosome. If we girls took driver’s ed today, we could sue him for sexual harassment and his hideous neckties.

Instead, we gulped meekly and tried our best to kill him.

My friend Linda eclipsed us all by wrecking the department’s new 1970 Cutlass (odometer reading: 11 miles).

I attempted to console her: “You did what he said.”

How could Linda know that when Mr. Doom ordered, “Pull over,” he meant after we passed the telephone pole?

His inspirational thought for the day: “You’re all going to die within 10 years.”

But I survived. I even lived to list my minivan as my legal address during our children’s school years.

But me, their unofficial driving instructor? It was like Homer Simpson giving sensitivity lessons.

I did discover excellent practice sites. The first was our church parking lot. I felt Cemeterycloser to God there.

I found our second driving course at the cemetery, where most of the people were already dead.

Such parental dedication contributed to eventual success: all our children obtained drivers’ licenses. No longer did I drag out of bed to retrieve a teen worker at midnight. Nor did I risk mugging as I dozed in a dark parking lot, awaiting the end of a youth lock-in.

Instead, we parents languished at home, monitoring car rates on the Insurance Channel.

We were proud of our children’s safe driving records, though, crediting superior instruction, constant practice and boring cars. When our grandchildren turn 16, Steve and I will highly recommend the latter as an efficient means of ruining their fun.

Their parents will recall our shopping for their first cars. Chunky and colorless, the perfect choice sat, an empty space on either side (the other cars didn’t want to hang around it). The car had visited only the grocery, library and church with its aged owner. It had forgotten how to drive above 55.

bmw-dashboardYes, sirree, their dad and I had found the car. Teens couldn’t sin in that car if they had to.

Could they?

If they did, they’re still not telling.

 

How about your first car? Anything you’re not telling your folks, either?

 

Lovin’ that Summer Job

frog-fast-food-white“How do I find a job?” our eldest inquired. Then 16, she needed to support her shoe habit.

Nostalgia washed over me. My father helped me get my first job at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant. Because the boss knew Dad — a charming southern gentleman in work coveralls — he hired me, sight unseen.

No wonder you don’t see many Howard Johnson’s restaurants anymore.

I learned more about human nature there than if I’d pursued a Ph.D. in psychology.

I also waitressed one summer in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The town’s welcoming sign read, “Kill your wife in Klamath Falls, the Murder Capital of the World.”

My mother helped me get this job — were my parents trying to tell me something?

I worked night shift, serving inebriated cowboys who wore the menus and pulled me onto their laps. Thank goodness for the 4:30 a.m. arrival of gentlemanly garbage guys!

JanitorCartI switched to janitorial work, often a solo job. Cleaning men’s rooms, I, a college music student, sang loud, high operatic scales. Few guys attempted to use the facilities with Madame Butterfly on the premises. My brother and I tidied lawyers’ offices whose open bottles of whiskey smelled like floor stripper. We also cleaned Klamath County’s 86 phone booths. We ate greasy hamburgers, laughed, sang and spent our best time together.

Then I worked at a nursing home, caring for Alex, an elderly schizophrenic with light-bulb eyes. I also met gentle 90-year-old Minnie, who daily fried imaginary chicken for imaginary threshers, and Freddie, once a dapper young stagecoach driver. I often ducked John, who thought I was an island girl during World War II.

Gradually, I became accustomed to Stan’s Bath Ceremony. Each line of his accompanying song began with a string of profanity in Bohemian, followed by:

“Take off da shoes. Dirrty, loussy, rrrotten, no-good VOOMAN!” He removed his shoes.

“Take off da socks. Dirrty, loussy, rrrotten, no-good VOOMAN!” He removed his socks.

“Take off da shirt. Dirrty, loussy, rrrotten, no-good VOOMAN!” He removed his shirt.

“AAAAAHHHHH!” This prelude to verse two was accompanied by a swing of his fist through the air. Once he donned a robe, though, Stan followed me docilely to the shower room.

My first permanent office job didn’t involve serving eggs to menu wearers or bathing Bohemians. Finally, I had arrived.

Within ten minutes I discovered summer jobs were only warm-ups for the real world. …

My daughter snare-drummed her fingers, bringing me out of my reverie. She repeated, as if I were mind-impaired: “Mom, how do you get a summer job?”

“Don’t worry, honey,” I assured her in my most motherly tone.

“I’ll help you find one.”

 

What was your most memorable summer job?