If your teen drives you crazy, should you let them drive a car? Should someone that flies off the handle simply because they think you’re looking at them the “wrong” way be deemed emotionally ready to get behind the wheel? Yet the older they get, the more involved in extracurricular and social activities they get, and if they don’t drive, the parent does. A lot. I swear, the other day as I drove down Melrose Drive for the umpteenth millionth time, I thought my brain was going to explode from repetitious boredom (sorry, folks, it’s not the LA Melrose…it’s the Richardson, Texas Melrose, a main artery to the high school and not nearly as exciting to look at as its California cousin.) I’ve found a great new radio station that helps somewhat (yes, I’m playing my music these days) but I’m still tired of being a chauffeur. And speaking of tired, when Allison wants to stay out until after 10 p.m., my husband and I (who are both trying to get more sleep these days) flip a coin to see which one of us gets pick-up duty, or come up with our best reason why the other should be the DPD (Designated Parent Driver).
So now that she’s 15, as she starts whining about wanting to take Driver’s Ed. classes in order to get her permit, part of me wants to “burn rubber” to get her there and get her driving as fast as possible. But the other part, the part of me that sees her texting all the time and the part that remembers how she’s so tired every day that she almost falls asleep in class, says, “Are you kidding?”
That part has an ace up its sleeve — my 12-year-old minivan with the Uncool Mom bumper sticker on the back. Allison loathes riding in it and has made it clear she wouldn’t be caught dead driving it. J And my husband’s old “grandpa-style” boat of a car doesn’t fare much better in popularity. So if she did get her permit, what would she drive? “You’d get me my own car, right?!” she said the other day. Hmmm…for someone who routinely refuses to save money, blows large sums of it (as soon as she has it) on frivolous stuff and then gets angry because we won’t buy her the latest rage (right now it’s $54 Tom’s canvas shoes), I’m not inclined to say yes to that car request at present.
Guess I should take comfort in the statistics that came out this week that said more teens are delaying driving and not getting their license when they turn 16. When Allison says, “Everybody’s doing it, why can’t I?” I can always pull out the newspaper clipping and say, “Oh, no they’re not!” I can also just have her look around. Even though a good friend of hers, also a freshman, is already well on her way toward getting her license, I see many local teens not driving until they’re at least Juniors.
But those new statistics also make me a little sad. The researchers said the lack of 16-year-old teen drivers was due in part to many school districts not offering Driver’s Ed any more (like our district) and kids being too busy to squeeze private driving classes into their out-of-school schedule. Gee, not getting the chance to sit in driving “simulators” (that looked like reconditioned carnival bumper cars) alongside all your friends and watching “The World’s Most Perfect Driver” (who looked like the world’s most perverted serial killer) on the big screen? Not getting to leave school during the day and drive around nearby neighborhoods with a high-strung Driving Practice instructor biting his nails and yelling at the kids in the backseat to stop rustling their notebooks? We’re denying our kids some priceless memories…stuff you can’t get at “Sears Driving School” or being homeschooled in Driver’s Ed by your parents! J
I also think teens are delaying driving because not as many are working at part-time jobs, which would require them to be a little more mobile. Again, they’re too busy with extracurriculars and tough homework, and too worried about making good enough grades in order to get into their favorite college, to be able to squeeze in one more thing like a job. Which is also sad, because working at a part-time job is great preparation for adulthood, and can help steer them down a career path. (Not to mention it helps pay for car insurance!)
Yes, there are pros and cons to Allison becoming a driver, and I’ve decided the perfect solution lies in four simple words: “Go ask your father.” After all, it was Andy who gave Allison her first taste of driving last summer, maneuvering through a deserted mall parking lot in Iowa… in Grandma’s car, of course!###