Driving Lessons

So yesterday was a big day at our house. We entered a new stage of parenthood. We are now a three-driver family.

Jonathan was ready. He’s almost 17. He’s a good, responsible kid, though I would say his driving skills remain a bit unrefined. And, like all teenagers, he thinks he knows more than he does. We made him do all 60 hours of practice (despite his insistence that “no other parents make their kids do all the hours.”). He drove to the MVA, to get in a little last-minute practice. I was going to make him parallel park one last time, amidst moving traffic, on Rt. 70, just for good measure. But I decided against it. Despite all his “experience,” he admitted he was nervous. I figured that was a good sign.

We arrived at the testing site, signed in, and pulled up to the stop sign which serves as the starting gate. I got out of the car and let the friendly lady with the clipboard get into my seat. She told me I could watch if I wanted, but I went to the bench around the corner and sat down. I didn’t want to make Jon any more nervous than he already was. Besides, I couldn’t bear to watch.

A few minutes later, after a quick “How’s he doing?” phone call from Karen, I saw the car come around the corner and pull into a parking space. There were no noticeable scratches on the car, nor were there any farm animals, pedestrians or other bumpers stuck to the front grill. Jonathan got out of the car, a smile on his face. The lady with the clipboard was smiling too. She gave me the words I did and did not want to hear. “He passed.”

Maybe it was because he was tired from a long day at school, or perhaps it was the post-stress letdown, or maybe it was because he wanted me to know I was still important enough to matter; whatever the reason, Jonathan handed ME the keys and said, “Why don’t you drive home, Dad?” I was glad to oblige.