The Day I Stopped Looking Forward to My Teenager Getting a Driver’s License
Up until now, I was looking forward to my son learning to drive. I figured he could rely on himself a little more and could drive himself to friend’s houses, activities and even to the store. He could get to his dad’s place an hour away, pick up his sister, or run errands…life should get easier!
We got the car insurance in place (ouch!); we bought my in-laws car, and he aced the test for his learner’s permit. We have the proud photo of him holding it in front of the DMV.
The next step is 40 hours of practice, which is the law in Utah. I was fine when we practiced in the church parking lot. He took corners a little fast. There were some jerks and stops, but he’s a new driver. It’s to be expected. I felt proud of how calm I was. This is no big deal!
And then we ventured into traffic…
Don’t get so close to that parked car!
Brake before a turn!
Stay in your lane!
I tried to speak calmly and not raise my voice. I took deep yoga breaths. All the stress I’d felt that day was amplified, and I couldn’t handle it. I haven’t practiced with him since. I quit! Let his dad do the driving part of driver’s ed. That will be better, right?
This fear took me off guard. My first kid driving is bringing up all sorts of emotions that I wasn’t expecting. I’m not sure how my parents handled it when I was learning to drive.
He’s a careful driver when I’m with him. It’s when I’m not that worries me. Does he speed? Does he text and drive? Would he talk to his friends and neglect to pay attention to driving?
I’m know I’m attached to my smart phone—so is he. He texts constantly, and you’d think there was a competition to see how fast he responds. Can he resist sneaking a peek while driving? Can any teenager? Or any grown-up for that matter?
Then I have guilt. I haven’t always been the best example. I know he’s seen me do it since he was still in a car seat.
We talk about it now and both agree not to do it, but it’s like losing weight or giving up chocolate…it’s hard!
I thought maybe I could find an app to address the problem—to let me know how he’s driving when I’m not there and help him resist texting while driving. I’ll even download it! It’s just too dangerous to chance or to rely on willpower.
More than 300 people died from texting & driving last year, and more than 400,000 were injured. That’s a real crisis, and they say the real numbers are probably much higher. After all, who admits to crashing because he was posting to Facebook?
Every time you look at your phone, your eyes leave the road for an average of 5 seconds. At 55 MPH, that’s the length of a football field. Imagine all the things you could hit on a football field driving through it with your eyes closed…
Next month Bjorn will turn 16. In 3 months he’s eligible to get his driver’s license, which means I’m running out of time. He’ll be leaving home sooner than I can imagine and I need to adjust. I need to be able to trust him, to let him make his own mistakes, but not hurt himself in the process.
It’s just terrifying to me. I know it’s all tied into him becoming a person, an adult someday, independent from me, and I know I’m not the first mom to feel like this. But how do I cope? Tell me more experienced moms—how did you handle the fears, and does it get easier?