AUTHOR: Sean Savage | POSTED: December 7, 2010 | COMMENTS: 2 Comments
CATEGORIES: Daddy on The Fly, Teenage Trouble, Tags: challenges, don't sweat the small stuff, gadgets, precious time, protecting your family, student drivers
Our sixteen-year-old son is learning how to drive a car.
A sixteen-year-old. And my car.
And, unfortunately, I have to teach him. There are no do-overs or reset buttons when learning how to drive and this scares the hell out of me. I would rather have a colonoscopy—and I’m speaking from experience here–than be a passenger with a teenager behind the wheel. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the kid and he is way high on the responsibility bell curve for his age, but what is that really saying? He is one of the best of the worst drivers? Why are Carolyn and I allowing him to pursue his license? I would rather have him be driving than sitting in a passenger seat with another teenager at the wheel. But I’ve also concluded that teenage drivers should have their own lane on the highway with barricades on each side. Just like bowling: no gutter balls allowed.
I say a very simple prayer when I climb into the passenger seat of my eight year old Buick Rendezvous. I repeat it like a mantra, just about once every two seconds for the duration of the drive: “Dear God, Please do not let me die.” It’s interrupted only by crazed shouts of “STOP SIGN”, “BIG TRUCK,” or my personal favorite, “WRONG LANE!” I have spoken with parents who say nothing when their child is driving. While I appreciate their Zen approach, I just don’t have the self control (not without a few numbing cocktails, or more likely, duct tape). And yet I am completely befuddled by why Drew would rather drive with his mother? Was it something I said?
On Sunday, with Drew at the wheel, we drove to a park for a run. There is one significant problem with the Buick. You must slam the driver’s side door shut for it to be secure and to avoid the “door ajar” sign lighting up. After the run, we got into the car to drive home. In an effort to increase the odds we would make it home unscathed, I took the wheel (just kidding Drew!). Drew got in after putting on his jacket and as he shut the door, we both heard a loud crack. “Dad, I think there’s a problem with the passenger door too.” Perfect, a car with two hard-to-close doors is just right for a sixteen year old to drive.
As we walk into the kitchen, Drew pulls his recently purchased (with his own money) iTouch out of his pocket and realized that the cracking he heard was not a malfunctioning car door, but a properly functioning car door crushing a brand-new iTouch. His head dropped as Carolyn and I stood near him wondering what would be said next. I could sense he was hoping mom-and-dad bank would offer an instant bailout to replace it, but we did no such thing. Carolyn broke the silence: “I guess you have a new and very expensive Christmas list item.” This did not sit well with Drew, who went upstairs and in all his glory slammed the door to his room shut out of anger at himself, us, and I am sure with some embarrassment mixed in as well.
About ten minutes later, Drew comes back down holding his shattered gadget. But this time he’s laughing. He had posted a picture of the deceased iTouch on Facebook, and was getting some good-natured ribbing from friends. In a very short period of time he had turned a lemon into lemonade and was willing to laugh at himself. I was really proud of how he had handled a very difficult moment. My dad always used to say that there were two things you had to remember: #1– do not sweat the small stuff and #2–it’s all small stuff. I don’t completely agree that it’s all small stuff, but most of it falls into that category.
I’ll have to keep that in mind when it comes to Drew and a driver’s license. He is good and takes it seriously. And soon he’ll have the keys to a “new to Drew” Rendesvous with 173K miles. After all, I have to keep the promise I made to him at the Buick dealership eight years ago: “Drew, I bought your first car today.”
A sixteen-year-old. And his new old car.