Diary Excerpt: Driving
“I’m just being a good mom.” Wow, if I had a dime for every time those words came out of my mouth… That was my standard response when being accused (again) of being crazy or overprotective over my daughter. And I always felt the same way-what “good” mother WOULDN’T do the same as I was doing? Okay, I’ll admit that having my daughter start driving has just about tossed this anxious mom over the edge into insanity. It was hard enough when she was a baby and youngster to protect her in this scary world. But now, now, I am forced to allow my precious baby head to out in a 2000 pound speed machine! Focus, Charli…focus.
Looking back, I could have seen this coming. Like when she was a baby in her high chair, and I insisted on sitting right beside her while she ate. Helloooo…she could have choked. But that was the obvious, sane reason. The other reasoning being that I needed to be sure and wipe her mouth and face between each bite. We can’t take the chance that the food will somehow crust onto her face during the meal, which leaves a reddish mark on her face when you wash it. And in my mind, this would be uncomfortable for my little one, so my only option was to sit with her when she ate. You see, I had no problem with this line of thinking, because I was glad to spend whatever time or energy needed for these processes. I adored nothing more in the world than being with that little person!
Back to driving….well, you know I insisted on being the one to teach my daughter how to drive. My husband thought me being overprotective again, but it made perfect sense. (a) Driving school was out! Who hasn’t seen those student driver cars, which did not need the sign identifying them as such in the back window? Simply watching the swerving, wrong turns and scared instructor in the front seat is enough for me. Not my baby!! (b) My husband was not an option either. You know, he HAS had traffic tickets during his 20 years driving. No, he has not wrecked, but, as I told him, his tickets average out to 1 every 6 years and that is proof that he does not always drive in the absolute safest manner. I remember comments about her being his daughter too, etc., etc., but those were well-covered by my all-consuming fear. (well, and smugness at having never had a ticket in my life)
Well, at age 15, I took her for her written test, hoping beyond hope that she would fail. But, as with everything, she excelled and walked away with a driver’s permit. As we walked to the car, she walked right to the driver’s door, and it hit me…arggg…I sorta have to let her drive. After a mini lecture in the parking lot about how she needed to think of my car not as a Toyota 4-Runner, but as a potential death machine, I allowed her to pull onto the highway. I must say she did very well, other than getting a little frustrated at having to drive 50 mph in the 70 mph zone. We had a discussion at home later about how 70 is speed under only optimal conditions, and the simple fact that she is a new driver removed her from that condition & I’d better not ever hear of her driving the actual speed limit. I’m pretty certain I saw her and her dad rolling their eyes at me, and winking. It was at that moment that I also realized that what was to come was a divided house of drivers. Me vs. Them.
A long year later, she got her regular license. The woman at the DNV cheerfully told us that we were the last month’s drivers to grandfather in on the old rule where you do not have to take an actual driving test with the state trooper. I asked her if I was allowed as a parent to force her to anyway, but she said no. If looks could have killed, I would not be writing this story now.
Gradually, though, I saw how this worked. Not only did I require a text before leaving to go anywhere, and another upon arrival, but with me it was a long speech each time she drove, covering all aspects of danger. The weatherman said it might rain today, and how fresh rain is the most dangerous as it brings the road’s oil to the surface. And if it is raining, she always had the option of leaving her car there a while and I’d happily come get her. We covered how she needs to go out and turn right at the school exit, and go four blocks before turning at the protected light toward home, because the quicker way would require a left turn through traffic, and why in the world would we risk that?! At times I almost envied her dad, who summed up each departure with a simple “be careful”. He said I worry enough for everyone…hmmm.
Well, we are four years into driving, and there have been no accidents, for which I praise God daily. I still pray each time my daughter leaves the house, for I do believe in prayer, and I know I always will. I don’t lecture as much, but I still do it enough to get the rolled eyes and knowing glances between she and her dad that say, “there goes crazy mom again”. And that’s alright, ’cause nothing in the world means to me what that girl means to me and I’ll be called crazy and overprotective until the day I die for my girl, who is a college student now, by the way.
Wait, college……I didn’t think to remind her this morning to be extra careful since I read that article last night about crime on college campuses….what a horrible mother! I’ve gotta run and find my cell phone and text her! Upcoming excerpt: Campus Safety!