Friday, December 20, 2013 my son Isaiah L. Jones got his driver's license! It's hard to believe it's been nearly a year since Isaiah first slid behind the wheel of my burgundy 2012 Nissan, permit in wallet, and I took the passenger seat. (Which, by the way, automatically throws off your equilibrium. Instead of those mirror signs that say, "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear," parents of teen drivers unaccustomed to sitting on the passenger side need a little prompter that says, "Teen may not be ready to run over the curb, even though it sure looks like it.") Xanax should be offered free of charge during this adventure.
Here is my internal dialogue before taking my 16 now 17-year-old son out to drive for the first time:
“OK, Sonya, be calm about this. He’s a new driver, so be patient and supportive. Don’t nag. Focus your suggestions on the big things, like, say the ditch he’s about to run into, and let the little things go, like, say the mailbox he took out before hitting the ditch. Above all, do NOT be judgmental .”
I really tried to be the calm, supportive Mom when he got behind the wheel. But, once we actually started moving, I couldn’t help myself. Impending death, and the threat of crippling property damage lawsuits will do that to you. “BRAKE, BRAKE, BRAKE!” is what I remember saying most often during our 10-minute drive, although to be honest most of it was a blur. I’m fairly sure I also mixed in some helpful motherly advice, such as “Aaaaaaaaaaaagh!” and “You see that car there, right? Right? RIGHT?”
The more we practiced, the sparser my in-car vocabulary became, dwindling to mostly "Slow down," "Please slow down" and "Isaiah Louis Jones, slow down." Like other parents-turned-driving instructors before me, I learned that constructive criticism--"Watch out!" "Don't you see that car?"--is not necessarily appreciated. In fact, it's often met with irritated retorts, such as "You want me to drive like an old lady." So, I moved on to other coping mechanisms. When things got hairy, I imagined that all the cars on the road were made of rubber. Even in a head-on, there would be no dented bumpers, no deployed air bags, no insurance companies to deal with. Avoidance and denial, generally considered mentally unhealthy, can be good strategies when teaching a teen to drive.
To be fair though, I can't take all the credit. A lot belongs to my calm, cool, and collected hubby. Dad, as Isaiah repeatedly reminded me, never gasped, never raised his voice and never, ever screamed "Stop! Stop!" with tears streaming down his face. But, in between those lessons with Dad, Isaiah logged extra practice with me. And, all those hours--working our way up from parking lots to alleys, side streets, busy streets and finally freeways--led to him to passing his driver's test. One teen down, one to go...lawd help me!
Conclusion...my son may have his driver's license, but my right foot still hits the invisible passenger side brake when approaching a stop light. Maybe by the time he graduates from college my invisible brake will disappear. Until next time...peace & blessings ♥