Having children was one of the most rewarding things my husband and I decided to do with our lives, but as they approached their teenage years, we had a lot of scary moments with them! They were moody, angry at times, and seemed to hate us. I was assured by fellow mothers that this was normal, and my own mother reminded me that I was not the most pleasant teenager either. She seemed to take relish in the fact that I was getting some of my own medicine from my kids, and promised me that they would grow out of it soon enough. In fact, I would shortly wonder at their high school graduation where all the years had gone.
As my oldest son approached sixteen however, he suddenly became very interested in talking to us – about driving. He wanted to know when he could get his learner’s permit, when he could drive his friends around, and whether he could have a car. My husband was charged with teaching him how to drive a stick shift first and foremost, and I signed him up for the mandatory driver’s education classes at the local Department of Motor Vehicles. I was nervous to actually let him drive so I slow walked most of my efforts, and he and my husband seemed to be fighting enough over the stick shift learning that it would still be a while. His grades were fine and he was pretty active in sports, so I was not worried about that so much as I was worried about his ability. With time, he did improve and learned how to drive a stick shift pretty well, too.
After he successfully passed all of the tests in his driver’s education class, he was eligible to apply for his driver’s license as soon as he turned sixteen. I went with him myself, and he passed the test with flying colors, according to the instructor. He got his license but I was firm that he was only allowed to drive with us or alone, not with his friends. I even let him drive home from the DMV. As he pulled into the driveway he reached up to push the remote to open the garage door, but did not push it hard enough or else did not wait for it to open. With one poorly timed brand new driver’s license, he plowed the car right into the garage door, surprising even himself.
My husband came running out of the house, and stared dumbfounded at our son behind the wheel with the nose of the car pointing through the garage door. We all sat shocked for a moment, and then we climbed out of the car. I checked to make sure my son was okay, and then my husband started yelling. He was grounded, and until he paid for the garage door repair, he would not be driving anywhere without one of us in the car with him for practice. My son was still shell shocked, but I often think it was a valuable lesson for him early on his driving that might have actually kept him safe later on.