Not too long ago, I asked my teen son if he’d give me a ride to a local restaurant so I could meet my friends for cocktails.
He responded by leaning his lanky frame back in his chair and grilling me with the same questions I usually asked him before he headed out for a night with his friends.
“Who will be there?”
“What time will you be home?”
“Will your friends’ parents be there?”
“Are you going to be drinking?”
After a bit of negotiation and a successful bid for a slightly later curfew (he drives a hard bargain), we set out in his car. With the windows down and 80s music wafting across the summer air, I settled into the passenger seat and marveled at how deftly he handled the manual transmission.
We’d come a long way on our driving journey together.
It wasn’t so long ago that I wouldn’t dream of asking him to drive me to our mailbox, let alone to a restaurant clear across town.
I thought back to when he earned his learner’s permit and how he sat behind the wheel for the first time, beaming with pride. I also remember thinking that I’d rather teach a room full of toddlers how to use the bathroom than be in the same car as a teen driver, with zero driving skills, careening toward the grocery store.
Mom Thoughts While In The Passenger Seat
- I can do this. I survived wearing baby doll dresses in college and the return of mom jeans. I taught toddlers to use the potty, and I survived the Great Diaper Blowout of 2004. Let’s ride!
- OMG. He doesn’t know how to put the car in reverse. Or his left from his right.
- Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” is on the radio. Well played, Universe. Well played. #HighwayToHellComingRightUp
- We made it out of the driveway and the garbage cans are still upright. #Winning
- My neighbor just made the sign of the cross as we drove by him. #JesusTakeTheWheel
- Here comes his first stop sign. Stop. Stop. STOOOOOP. Will I always have whiplash?
- If he says, “I got it, Mah,” one more time, I might scream.
- There’s not enough Tylenol on the planet to help me recover from that first highway merge.
- Do cars on the highway always move this fast? Aren’t we driving excessively slow?
- Can the driver in the car next to me see the terror in my eyes? The answer is “YES” because we nearly sideswiped him with that lane change. #MyApologiesSir #AlsoSendHelpToMileMarker12
- Pro tip: pulling on the door handle doesn’t make the car drift to the left.
- Why are my hands so sweaty? Why is it so hot in here?
- Brake. Brake. BRAAAAKKKKKKKE. Why don’t cars come equipped with passenger brakes?
- Potty training was easier. I know this now.
- He nailed parallel parking. On his 46th try. That’s okay. He’ll simply need to move to a country where parking is only in straight lines. #ItsFine #EverythingIsFine
- Well, he did it. He passed his driver’s test. What now?
- Why does his face look so mature on his driver’s license? Wasn’t it just yesterday that he sat on his toddler potty and watched Elmo?
- Please, let the other drivers keep him safe. He needs all the help he can get.
On that night when my son dropped me off at the restaurant to meet up with my friends, I recalled that time he made a three-point turn on a busy intersection at rush hour, and I shuddered. We’d certainly come a long way down the highway of teen driving hell. #PassTheTylenol
Now, I trusted his driving. When he leaned out the car window and jokingly yelled, “I want you waiting on the porch at 9 pm sharp when I come to pick you up!” I put aside my worries and remembered how amazing it feels to be seventeen and behind the wheel.