Our 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 closer 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.
Yes, sirree, their dad and I had found the car. Teens couldn’t sin in that car if they had to.
If they did, they’re still not telling.
How about your first car? Anything you’re not telling your folks, either?