i have entered a new stage of parenting...
the stage where i have to put my darling baby girl whom i have sheltered and protected all of her life, i have made her wear her seatbelt, a helmet, a life vest, and plenty of sunscreen. i have nurtured and guarded the precious gift that God has given me. i have shielded and defended her from so many harmful slings and arrows that this fallen world can send up into the air. she is my oldest girl who is so much like me that it hurts me sometimes. well, now the day has come when i have to take her and put her...
behind the wheel of a REALLY BIG AND HEAVY KILLING MACHINE also known as...
and now whenever we go anywhere with her driving i have to be at defcon level 7 (how many defcom levels are there? oh, there are only 5...) well, then it is accurate to say that i am at level 7 when we drive. and i am usually a cool, calm, and collected gal. and it just wears me out physically and emotionally to go on a little driving jaunt with her behind the wheel.
i have to be so alert, active, conversational, eyes looking everywhere, and i have to know my left hand from my right hand. which by the way, I DON’T KNOW!!!!!!! i attribute it to the fact that i am both left and right brained and therefore do not have a dominant side and no natural feel for right or left. so i end up telling millie to go “this way” and pointing while she is intent on looking straight out the front window and can’t see me pointing.
it never ends well. for either of us... or the people behind us honking their horns at us.
really, i do not know how i am going to survive teaching three teenagers to drive. this has to be the hardest thing that i have done as a parent. and it makes me think about all the other DANGEROUS things that i have introduced my children to that i did not give the same thought, intention, worry, or care to...
like the internet.
and the television.
and starbucks frappachinos.
i think i should have sat by her side for much longer instructing her, making her aware of the dangers, pointing out the things that could do as much damage to her soul as a car wreck can do to a suburban and a physical body.
but once i put her behind the wheel i sense the danger much more so than when i gave her the mouse to the computer or the remote control to the television. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!??!?!?!?!?!?
defcon level 8. that is where i am now.
when they handed me that little pink bundle of joy to take home from the hospital, they did not mention in ANY of the literature that i would one day have to teach her how to drive. they talked about how often to feed her. how to change her diaper. not to put her on her stomach to sleep. you would think someone would have thought to mention that one day i would have to HAND HER THE KEYS TO DEATH AND DESTRUCTION AND DESPAIR AND THAT I WOULD NEED TO KNOW MY RIGHT HAND FROM MY LEFT HAND. nope, never mentioned. and i read through those papers and i even took notes. i have those notes in a scrapbook and there was NOTHING about driving instruction.
once upon the time in another life when i had a baby girl teaching her to sleep through the night seemed like a daunting task. it seemed to take all of my energy and thought and i was so tired all of the time.
now it seems like it was nothing compared to a little drive of 2 miles around the neighborhood. maybe it is my age, but i do not think i can go through this three times and come out on the other side getting a full night’s sleep that isn’t plagued with nightmares involving teenager drivers. and once they are driving on their own... will i ever sleep again??????
Even though I walk (or ride along with a teenage driver)
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (as do the airbags)
p.s. i just had a lovely lunch at dog et al (a tallahassee establishment that serves strawberry fanta with their dogs, chips, and fried apple pies... delish.) and i sat across from one dave westberry of the florida highway safety and motor vehicles department (i didn’t PLAN to have lunch with him, he just happens to be erin’s uncle and was eating lunch with a group of us). he shared with me that the flhsmv department has a nice website with lots of tips for teen drivers and parents. click here and go visit “drive with care” or “take the wheel” which is a site for teens by teens. i can now take it down to defcon level 6. breathe in, breathe out... and keep remembering that millie will either drive me home or she will drive me Home. either way, i am a winner...