Monday, March 24, 2014

The Road To Independence

Our Saturdays have just changed forever.

Typically, either my husband or I get up early to drive our teenage daughter to her work-study job at the stable. If it's my turn, I then go right to the Y for a Zumba class and my husband sleeps in. If it's his turn, I go to the Y for a Zumba class; he returns, goes back to bed and sleeps in. (Anyone notice a pattern?)

This has been the routine for a number of years, interrupted only by family vacations, the swine flu, major holidays, and PSATs.

This past Saturday morning, my darling daughter ate a quicker-than-usual breakfast, grabbed her permit and glasses, kissed us good-bye, and raced outside. An instructor from her driving school was waiting by the curb with a couple of other hopeful 16 1/2 year-olds. It was the day they had all been waiting for ... the road test! Within hours, their license dreams would be realized. Or, they would return in shame. 

Despite 30 hours of classes, 12 hours of instruction, 6 hours of observation, and seemingly countless hours of practice, my girl was nervous. This was something new. Of course, I was practically frantic. This, however, was not new

To be perfectly honest, I had conflicted feelings. Should I hope for success for her sake? Or cross my fingers that she would fail, thereby enabling me to retain my position as chauffeur and protector? I compromised, praying silently "Please let her stay safe." I figured someone upstairs would interpret that for us.

It would be a while, so I went to my class and came back to do some writing. My husband saw the text first ...


Within the hour, she bounded in, beaming head to toe. I swallowed my panic and congratulated her. 'Turns out, she didn't just pass the test. As her instructor told her on the way home, she "Killed it!" Here's what the inspector had to say:

"Are you a professional driver?"


"Are either of your parents professional drivers?"


"Well, I've never had anyone do such a clean, efficient test before. Well done."

My daughter's performance on tests has always been important to me (just ask her). So, this should make me very happy, right? Well, yes and no. I'm very proud of her. But, I'm still a bit of a basket case over this whole thing.

My daughter on the other hand is thrilled. She loves to drive, and she equates having her own license with unlimited trips to and time at the stable with her beloved horse. This is more perception than reality. She still has to put schoolwork first. And, it's not as though I said "No, I won't take you" very often.

More than anything, I think having a license makes her feel she is finally growing up. It's freedom. And, I just have to get used to it — suddenly, my heart is not just walking around outside my body. It's driving away.

As soon as she had lunch (her appetite miraculously returned once the test was behind her), my daughter borrowed the keys to one of our cars and headed off. There were conditions: cell phone in the glove compartment, ringer off; a text when she arrived at her destination; another when she was ready to head home. Most of all, I implored her "Please be very very careful." To her credit, she didn't groan or roll her eyes. She promised that she would be and happily left. 

To my credit, I managed somehow to breathe for the next three hours until she was safely back again.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at   

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