Baby You Can’t Drive My Car

 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!


19 thoughts on “Baby You Can’t Drive My Car”

  1. This blog is so wonderful! I have a suggestion for your for Alison – when she demands driving lessons, tell her she needs to get a job and save up to pay for them, so she can get a licence.

  2. My mom put me in a driving class as soon as I was old enough, and I am glad she did. Driving involves responsibility, yes, but it also shows that a parent trusts us with something that dangerous.

  3. I think you should give them a chance. If they are responsible for paying for the car, gas, and insurance, they will usually take good care of it. And yes, not having to drive your teenagers around all the time as they stay later and later partying with their friends is a good thing, in my book.

  4. I love your blog and refreshing attitude! Kudos! Actually, I didn’t get a car until I was 19 and old enough to help substantially with paying for it. (I was allowed to drive my dad’s car for my own use, as long as he didn’t need it.) Why do kids expect a car these days along with the license?

  5. I think that if your teenagers have shown enough responsibility by going to their driving classes and passing them, that they are ready to drive a car (if not own one yet). Even sharing your car with your teen for certain things might help; they don’t have to have their own for a few months.

  6. If they don’t express a need for a car, then there’s no reason to insist. But I would insist that they get their license though, because I’ve seen too many adults too busy to get it after they’ve started working and regretting that they didn’t do it while in high school. Food for thought!

  7. I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often. I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else!

  8. I didn’t get a car until I was 19 and old enough to help substantially with paying for it. I think you should give them a chance. If they are responsible for paying for the car, gas, and insurance, they will usually take good care of it.

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  10. Nice Article , very informative.

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