Generally speaking, I am not one to pine for the good old days – way back when life was easier in the early to mid 1980’s (way back then). I like to think at least I am someone who embraces life today and cherishes the moment. But after taking 16.5 to register for driver’s ed, finally I can yearn for the good old days.
Perhaps because we were recently talking about it, or perhaps I just remember – but the fact that there was nothing momentous about my registering for driver’s ed. That’s a stark contrast to the 90 minutes we spent tonight getting the deed done.
Way back in the old days of 1984 (or maybe it was early 1985) I took a form a check and walked up to the office at the school where I took driver’s ed and I was done. Tonight, we walked into the high school up the road, and there was easily 75 kids (and assorted parents) on a line snaking through the front hallway and down an adjoining corridor.
There were two women in the school’s office taking checks and forms – and writing (as in pen to paper) names on lists. One of the parents commented that in 2016, there should be a better way…
Yeah I thought, they could do it like they did way back in 1984. It wasn’t an event. It really should not have been memorable. In contrast I suppose it will be.
So, finally I can yearn for the good old days. The days when putting pen to paper and handing in a check wasn’t an evening out – it was just another stop along the way.
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.
So last night was the second night of Passover and I accepted an invitation from a co-worker to join him and his family for a second night seder at his NYC apartment. In the days leading up to the holiday we talked about whether or not I would bring the girls with me.
Ultimately, I decided no. This was largely because I was concerned they would be the youngest children there. The next youngest would be my co-workers’ 15 year old daughter. Not that I think anything bad would have occurred mind you, it’s just that I did not want to take them to a spot where they did not know anyone and would feel uncomfortable.
As I was rolling home on the LIRR last night, I realized I erred on the side of over-protection.
It’s important to me to make sure I put the girls into a spots where they will succeed. But it’s also important to challenge them and push them to grow-and this was an opportunity lost.
And by no means was this a huge loss mind you, there will be more opportunities to bring them into more advanced social settings, but I have to make note to remember to give the girls a chance to grow and not worry as much about their being uncomfortable.
One of the things I have marveled at about my girls-from visiting Risa in hospice and helping her eat, to getting through the funeral and unveiling, to going away to sleep away camp-they are adaptive.
Sometimes like last night I need a reminder to let them adapt.