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Saturday, October 16, 2010

neurosis's of a parent with a teenager driver

Sunny drove the car up the mountain on Friday.  It's almost a year into our family having a 3rd licensed driver, and no matter how many times or hard I push the invisible brake pedal on the passenger's side, it will not slow the car down!
When I was younger, say yesterday or a couple decades ago, I swore I wasn’t going to be one of those neurotic control-freak type of mamas sitting next to their teen driver.
Then I grew up.  And birthed a 10 lb baby a la natural.   And time passed, and babes grew and then I got real and got a teenage driver.  A purple-fingernail-polish-wearing teen driver. 

You see, here’s the thing.  I wasn’t going to be a nagging, constant advice spewing, suddenly gasping parent in the passenger seat.  In many ways I’m not.  Sadly it’s worse.  I’m a screaming, fearing-for-my life parent in the passenger seat. 

As a teenager, I assumed that my mom was a neurotic control-freak type of mama.  I assumed she was overreacting to every little sharp turn and bump in the road.  What I failed to grasp at this immature age, is that my mom might have actually been sitting there in the passenger seat actually fearing for her very life!  Fearing she would soon, within the next moment, be smeared across the asphalt and meeting with her maker.  I am this mother.  Sunny says she will never be this kind of mother. 

If you've been reading a while, you may remember when this happened.   It was a small crinkle in life that I and my bumper are STILL living with almost a year later.  And it’s also a lesson in saying what you really mean ‘cause teens have a way of taking your words literally.

Then there was the first time Sunny went on the highway with Papa when she still had her permit.  It was a back road freeway and very quiet, and she was ready.  It was a good time to do this.  But I was fearful.  Papa suggested I sit in the back, and I did.  And as Sunny accelerated and came off the shoulder of the road, I had a sudden realization.  Without supernatural powers there was absolutely no way that from this backseat location that I could either
1—grab the steering wheel should there be an emergency and save the family from certain death.
or
2--- extend my left leg over to the driver’s seat and push the brake with my foot should there be an emergency and save my family from certain death.
Both of these seemed like realistic options when I was in the passenger seat.  But from the backseat they were now were impossible.  I was relying on Papa’s skills should there be an emergency to save our family from certain death.  And I kid you not, but at that very moment, I buried my face in my hands and wept.  Hard.

I also took Sunny on the big city freeways for the first time.  Her “merge” onto the freeway could hardly be described as steady or gradual.  It was all jerky, left right, gas brake, and in those 5 seconds turn a decade that passed before my eyes, in my head I was all...
WATCH OUT FOR THAT TRUCK! 
CHECK AT THE SPEED LIMIT! 
INCREASE YOUR SPEED! 
BE SURE TO MERGE GRADUALLY! 
WATCH OUT FOR THE CUP IN THE ROAD! 
DO YOU SEE THE CAR BEHIND YOU?
DID YOU CHECK ALL YOUR MIRRORS?! 
YOU HAVE TO BE ESPECIALLY CAREFUL TO SEE MOTORCYCLES!
DID I SAY I LOVE YOU TODAY?
DON’T EAT IN THE CAR WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING!
LEAVE YOUR CELL PHONE IN YOUR PURSE SO YOU’RE NOT TEMPTED! 
10 AND 2 O’CLOCK! 
WATCH OUT FOR THAT TRUCK! 
NO, YOU CAN’T HAVE THE RADIO ON!  
DID YOU READ THAT SIGN! 
AN AUTOMOBILE IS A WEAPON TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!   
YES, THAT RED TRUCK! 
I’M SO PROUD OF YOU, AND I DON’T THINK I SAY THAT OFTEN ENOUGH! 
YIELD TO THE CARS ON THE FREEWAY! 
CHECK YOUR BLIND SPOT NOW! 
DON'T YOU ROLL YOUR EYES AT ME, YOUNG LADY!
IS YOUR SEAT BELT SECURED FIRMLY! 
USE YOUR INDICATOR! 
YES, THAT BIG RED TRUCK!
DID YOU WRITE THAT THANK YOU CARD?
DRIVING IS A PRIVILEGE NOT A RIGHT! 
KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD, AND I DON’T CARE HOW CUTE HE IS! 
SPEED UP! 
SLOW DOWN! 
NO TEXTING WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING! 
NO UNNECESSARY TALKING! 
BRAKE NOW SO YOU DON’T HIT THAT TRUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I have no idea which words actually came out of my mouth during those moments.  But the aforementioned truck driver gave Sunny the evil eye, and shook his head in disapproval.  Mama bear surfaced.  I used the only ammunition I could think of.  I pointed my index finger up in the air and wagged it back and forth at him.  It’s her first time!  I mouthed the words at him slowly and deliberately.  He gave us some distance.  Smart man. 

Sunny’s 17th birthday is coming soon, and these days she asks for the car keys often.  Daily.  My hair is getting grayer more quickly these days.  Giving up some of the control, especially for a neurotic control-freak type of mama like me, is tough.

7 comments:

  1. Sounds familiar, right now we are on our third driver and in all honestly I'm not liking it, one more thing to worry about.

    I let my son back out of the garage several weeks ago and he hit the side of the house and took off my bumper, hubby wasn't too happy.

    Hang in there mama!

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  2. Sophie-I bumper and 2 side mirrors later, I am still hanging in there. Thanks for the support. But hearing your still uneasy about it 3 teenage drivers later doesn't do my heart well. Extra prayer is all there is in the end I guess.

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  3. My momma still like that with me... hm maybe Im not that good of a driver. lol :)

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  4. Oh my. I'm happy to be sitting at home playing chess with one and fairies with another right now!

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  5. Amen! I'm right there with you...except this is my first driver of 5 with one right on her heels. Yikes! I prefer to just let Dad do the driving with her...
    Blessings,
    Monica

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  6. I laughed so hard at your description! Fortunately, I live in a rural area, so my two sons had to learn to merge after they left home! ;-) As it was, teaching them to drive a standard transmission in Dad's pickup.....omigosh! The eldest killed the engine, climbed out and got into the passenger's side after he ground a gear and jumped to a start. The younger one worked at a lumber mill and got to practice because his job was to keep the company pickups filled with gas. He had to learn to drive that stick shift. Thanks for sharing this fabulous illustrated essay!

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  7. Oh, how I can relate!! I will admit though that I was so ready for my oldest to drive because that meant I was no long her chauffeur!

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