Friday, October 17, 2008

Milestones of the Auto Variety

B2, our oldest at 15, got her official "restricted driving license" last week. She got her instructional license in May. Her driving has much improved since that first outing but let's face it, she's still a NEW driver.

With the restricted license comes the ability to drive oneself to/from work and school without an adult in the car.

In her mind this should be an automatic. As well as her own car.

Lawman and I are not so quick to oblige. We realize that we will have to let the girl go out at some point without us in the vehicle. The fact is though, we're not as excited about it as she is though.

She informed us a couple of nights ago that she had accepted a baby-sitting job for Saturday evening which would require her to drive. She also mentioned that it's about 12 miles away and it would require her to drive home at 10pm by herself. On a 2 lane road. No shoulders. Lots of curves. Uh, I don't think so. Fortunately, I knew Lawman would be on my side. As it turns out, the mother who asked her to baby-sit had a conversation with her husband the following day and they both decided that they didn't want our daughter driving that particular road by herself or at night. They thought about where they'd be in a few years with their own daughter and they knew they wouldn't want her on that same road by herself at night. Driving a car. So, all is well as B2 will be riding with the mom to/from the baby-sitting job. (Answered prayer.)

We did allow B2 to drive herself last night to a baby-sitting job. It was only 1/2 a mile from our house so we thought this might be a good way to test the waters. She did great. She called us when she got there and called again when she'd be heading home. Perfect.

Today she drove herself to school. It's a half-day so she'll be done early. She forgot to call us when she got there because she and her friend, Bailey, got so caught up in the fact that they were able to "park next to each other" that they got a case of the giggles and concerned parents slipped her mind. Go figure.

There's so much more to driving than steering, using turn signals and that sense of independence that comes with it. Lawman and I remember how excited we were when we were at this milestone in our lives. What new drivers don't realize is that you have to be a defensive driver - always be aware of your surroundings. Even further down the road than just where you are right now. The responsibility you have as a driver is huge. Not only for yourself but your passengers, pedestrians and other drivers. One mistake on the road and it can cost you. Big time.

And granted, given Lawman's line of work, he's seen more than the average parent/driver and he doesn't want his daughter to be a statistic. Many accidents can be avoided. It requires patience from our new driver (you'll get your independence in due time) and standing firm in making decisions/choices from us as parents (if we think we should say no, then we're probably right). I know our choices won't always be popular with her but that's just part of parenting. I know she'll "get it" when it's her oldest baby that's 15 and asking for the car keys.


Anonymous said...

good for you for laying down the law!

let's see, I'm only a few years away from this...yikes

Irma said...

Not to be graphic, but.... my Ex-Hisband was the fire chief in our rural town, and he spent very little time fighting fires: most call-outs for the fire dept involved them scraping people off the highway.

You are right to allow your daughter to test her driving skils in a limited environment. You are right to NOT allow her to drive roads you are not comfortable she can handle. And let's face it, there's a lot to be said about how easily teenagers can get distracted while at the wheel. No, that's not a slur on young people, it's just that I DO still remember what it's like to be 16.

So yeah, B2 might roll her eyes at you periodically, and you may have the occasional fight over the car, but by the time she's 22 or so, she'll understand why you did what you did.

Anonymous said...

I have already been where you are now and it never gets any easier for me. And my kids are 19 and 20 and in college. I don't know if kids ever realize what we go through and why we do what we do until they have kids of their own.

Elsi said...

I'm a mean mommy -- or so my kids said.

All 3 of our kids were required to drive a car with a standard transmission for the first 3 years. I believe that this was more important for our daughter than for her older brothers. Being able to drive a straight-shift (as I grew up calling it) means that if her date has had too much to drink, she can drive any car out there.

We didn't give a car to any of our kids, but we did provide them with access to a family car to get themselves to and from as necessary. The cars they drove weren't fancy, but then again, kids make mistakes. They may be extremely conscientious, but still lack enough experience to make the right decision every time.

B2 may fuss about it now, but she'll appreciate the wisdom of your rules later on.

The Source said...

Oh, we're right there with you. Our daughter got her learner's permit in July and we're making her take Driver's Ed at school. She's almost given the teacher heart failure...but I figure, better him than me. I've let her drive me around a little and it's going to be a LONG time before she's ready to go out on her own. Baby steps.