Why do we have to let our children drive?

23 Jul

Beloved has been driving for a while now on her permit.  In case you’ve forgotten how it all started, click here.  The truth of the matter is that she was “technically” eligible for her license in September.  By technically, I mean according to county law; not technically as in a technically good driver. 

teen girl driving


Since the thought of her behind the wheel of  a vehicle still makes me nauseous, I have secretly discouraged her from driving any chance I get.  She is on to me. It used to be a bit simpler since our rule was that if she didn’t remember to bring her permit, she couldn’t drive without it.  Beloved is very forgetful so score one for Helicopter Mom. Then she started leaving it in the car so that foiled my plan. 

I made up so many rules and requirements for her driving that eventually she sort of gave up and quit asking.  But as we neared the eligibility date, that all changed and now my home is a constant barrage of “I’m driving, can I drive, I call driving, why can’t I get my license, can I just get my license but I won’t drive alone I promise”.  My answer was always “not now, no, it’s rush hour, I need to get there quickly” but now I usually acquiesce…if only for the quiet it brings me. 

Lately, we’ve been really working on letting her drive every chance we can that doesn’t involve the freeway.  We are not ready for that yet.  If the speed limit is 40 and under, that’s our path.  So my gas bill has gone up as you can imagine since we drive all over the back country in order to reach our destination.  It’s crazy but works for me.  Poor Beloved is frothing at the window as we pass by the major thoroughfares…to her dismay…for the road less traveled.  She is certain that she is ready; she’s not. 

Each time we are driving together, I narrate the road rules as we come upon them.  Slow down for the 90 degree turn, remember to break softly when it’s wet, use your directional, look both ways once the light turns green-my God, I’m so tired of talking when we finally arrive.  It does seem to help her remember, or at least that’s what I tell myself.  Most of the time, she is yelling back that she knows what to do and was just about to do it…but I spoke too soon.  Aha, right.

Part of the license requirement is at least 10 hours of nighttime driving; as if I’d allow her to be out at night alone!  It’s apparent by the DMV rules that once your kid has their license, they are free to roam with wild abandon.  I try explaining to her that even if she had her license, the family rules still apply.  I can tell from her reaction that the drivers ed instructor forgot to mention that part.

Beloved’s wish: Got permit, get license, parents buy a Jeep, traipse the tri-state area unfettered. 

Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad’s reality: Got permit, drag out license as long as possible, a car, really, and shouldn’t we update the house alarm code so she’s unable to escape? 

Joking aside, we realize that this delicate dance won’t go on much longer and she will be ready for driving alone.  Scary thought but a necessary evil.  Man, I yearn for the days when a high chair could corral this girl.  Pray for us!  

Hovering high and low, Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

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