The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Driving lessons
Every parent of teens knows that this is the time in your life that will age you the fastest. Teens are difficult – not only do they test you, but they test you in ways that you could never, in a million years, plan for. Not only are they sneaking out of the house behind your back, they are experimenting with drugs, sex and alcohol, but in ways that they used to classify as subversive or perverse back in the '60’s.

The worst part of being the parent of teens has to be the day every parent dreads: the day your teen says that he or she is old enough for a driver’s permit, and he wants you to teach him how to drive. My parents don’t know how lucky they were. My first real driving experience was with the school instructor in a car outfitted with brakes on the front passenger side. Only after I was inducted into the world of operating a car, did I subject my parents to the harrowing experience of allowing me to drive the family car “for practice.” Knock on wood, I’ve never been in an accident, but I am sure there were moments when my mother’s knuckles turned white as we stopped in traffic about three inches from the bumper of the car in front of us.

I had sons and they are the reason, today, I flinch in traffic. I clearly remember being with the family on an out of town trip, and deciding to allow the oldest to have some highway driving practice. I figured – what the heck – he’s taken Driver’s Ed at school (and I took Driver’s Ed and passed with flying colors – surely he’s a chip off the ol’ block, eh?) Things went along smoothly until he decided to pass a guy in a pickup truck at 65 miles an hour.

Now, there is a rule for passing that I thought everyone learned: you don’t move back into your lane until you can see the headlights of the car you just passed, in your rear view mirror. My son obviously was paying attention to something else the day they taught that in his class, because no sooner did he pull out to pass, than he was moving back into the lane, cutting off the guy in the pickup truck. I saw the front bumper of the pickup truck outside my window in the back seat (notice I chose to sit in the presumably safer back seat and allow my son’s stepfather to sit with him in the front,) and my life flashed before my eyes. I could see the front end of the pickup and the side rear of our car (the side I was sitting on) becoming One with the Universe in a matter of a split second.

I screeched, and the driver in the pickup truck slammed on his brakes. Lucky for us, he must have noticed how young the driver at the wheel of our car was, and he was prepared. I walked a bit funny after that trip and have been slightly unintelligible ever since. I started naming the white hairs on my head after that experience – I have many hairs that bear the name of my first son, but in fairness to him, even more are named after his younger brothers.

I hope, one day, in the Afterlife, they give out medals to parents who have successfully raised teenagers to adulthood without either having them arrested or winding up themselves, in a mental hospital. Sadly, I know parents who won’t be at that ceremony. Hopefully, those parents get a cozy pot of tea and Eternity at the nicest resort in town.
posted by Melanie O. at 9:05 PM -
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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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