This right of passage – giving driving lessons to a teenaged child – is not one faced by single (only) parents – but it’s been a unique challenge for me as an only parent to conquer, I think largely because it involves facing the fact that I have to give up some control.
Thinking back, I can remember the year from when I turned 16 (when you can get a learner’s permit) to when I turned 17 (when you can get your license) as a long year. I remember doing the math and realizing although it seemed like it took forever to reach 16 (and 17) eventually I would be driving for more years in my life that I wasn’t.
So, I focused on learning to drive – both with my mom’s help and driving lessons and working for just about anyone who would pay me – so I could get a car the day I got my license. For me, a car was freedom – the same way my bicycle was freedom when I was 10.
Now teaching 16.0 to drive is a whole new experience.
While I like to think I’m not a control freak, keeping things under control is important to me. There is a definite sense of loss of control when you turn your 16-year old loose (even when you’re in the passenger’s seat and she’s in a parking lot) with your hard-earned automobile.
While I expect her to take a full driver’s ed course over the winter into the spring ahead of her June birthday – I’m trying to teach her how to be situationally smart while driving. How to make decisions, and not what decisions to make (the model I’ve used for the last 6 years).
But now it’s hard to try to let her make decisions and sit there quietly while our safety (and my car) is on the line.
Slowly we’re getting there. We’ve been out of parking lots a little and working on practical driving stuff (I’ll leave the technical teaching to the professionals). And I’m slowly learning my driving lessons while I teach driving lessons to my daughter.