I know many parents that dread the day their kids pass the road test and get the green light to drive from the state department of Motor Vehicles, or in the case of Pennsylvania – the Department of Transportation. I am not one of those parents.
In fact I was a little concerned a couple of years ago when Christian expressed very little interest in driving and wasn’t even sure he wanted to get his license to drive. Thankfully a trip to North Dakota with my parents last summer changed his perspective. My uncle Alan has given all three of my kids their first driving lessons. (I think I secretly wish he’d given me mine, but we won’t talk about the experience on the interstate between Lincoln and Omaha.)
Seven months ago Christian got his permit. He passed on the first try – not really a surprise. I’m sort of hoping the daughter of the guy who sat next me that day never passes. It was her fifth attempt. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say it may not be a good idea for her to be driving.
Surprisingly we’ve had very few “moments” since he’s been driving. That includes the night before his final road test when we drove to the site of the test to re-run the course and to practice parallel parking. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was when we drove into the parking lot and there were at least a half dozen hopefuls hitting the curb and bumping into pylon cones as they tried to master parallel parking. Christian and I ran through the course and several parking exercises without incident and mutually agreed he was ready for the final test.
His road test was scheduled for mid afternoon and the drive there was an opportunity for Christian to warm up for the final exam. The route to PennDot is currently under construction. There are a lot of lane changes and traffic gets very bogged down.
“STOP, STOP, STOP,” I shout.
Christian turns his head, “What are you talking about? We’re on the highway. I can’t stop.”
I frantically waved my hands at the bumper to bumper line of cars, “You need to slow down…it’s all jammed up ahead.”
With the confidence of a teenage driver he replied, “We’re fine. I’m fine. I saw it.”
I wasn’t as sure. It could have been last minute nerves on my part, maybe I misjudged the upcoming traffic jam, or maybe it was a good thing I shouted out. I knew he was rattled and I felt bad about that. And as he pointed out later, it wasn’t a great idea to shout out the word “STOP” while he was driving on the highway.
In spite of the poorly timed “moment,” he passed the road test with flying colors, handed me the keys. After which, he handed me the keys and said “I think it’s best if you drive home.” I could very well be the only mother whose kid didn’t drive home after getting their license, but it was probably a good call.
He’s off and driving now and in fact the roles have somewhat reversed. Today I took the train to Philly for my writer’s group meeting and he dropped me off and picked me up from the station.