My oldest daughter has had her learner’s permit for about a month now, and she’s already sent one unfortunate chipmunk to the Great Nutty Beyond. She may send me to the same place, although instead of the nuts, I’d prefer chocolate ice cream and Diet Coke.
I am the mother of a teen driver.
Many of you have already been through the harrowing experience of getting into the passenger seat of your own vehicle with your child behind the wheel. Something about it feels inherently wrong, like that friend’s husband who always kisses you hello on the lips. As a mother, (and is it the same for fathers?), images of both your lives flash before your eyes. You remember the time she accidentally steered the pink motorized Barbie car into the house, and you just know it’s a sign of what’s to come.
I have to give my husband credit: he has taken her on any number of driving lessons and has lived to tell the tale. Maybe it’s because, as a recent (but treasured) addition to her life, he doesn’t share the memories of kissing skinned knees and the incident with the Barbie car. Maybe he’s just a little less emotional than I am in that passenger seat. He speaks to her calmly and confidently, and as result – she is confident and calm. He insists that my sobbing from the back seat isn’t helping anything, but that can’t be right…
I finally realize that commercial had it right all along: it does feel like your toddler is asking to borrow the car. You find yourself looking for the Fisher-Price keys that had the pretend clicker, because surely, that’s all she could possibly be ready for. Here, honey, chew on these. Maybe later, I’ll let you play with my cell phone.
In the words of the wisest of the wise, Miss Britney Spears: she’s not a girl, but not yet a woman. The same person that loves to cuddle with me, and still takes goofy pictures with her dogs is now behind the wheel of a 1-ton killing machine with an automatic transmission. Maybe I’m overstating it.
I’m not ready. I’m not ready for her to drive a car. I’m not ready to let her go like that. I want her back in that little pink Barbie Jeep. Somehow, her sitting behind the wheel of my beloved SUV has put all of that into perspective.
And then I realize, I’m just like that chipmunk – I never even saw it coming.