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My Son Got His Driver’s License and My Emotions Are All Over the Place

Oh, if those walls could talk—the walls of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The dreaded parent waiting room. I sit there anxiously waiting for what seems like an eternity. Waiting for the car to pull up and for some stranger to come into the bureau to tell me whether my baby has passed the driver’s test.

I sit there, wanting my kid to succeed—to pass his test and to earn this rite of passage. As I wait, I can’t think of anything else. I position in the first seat with the best view of door. I’m reduced to nail biting. I brace myself for the agony of defeat but hope for the glory of success.

And then I have this moment when I realize—this is WAY more about me than it is about my son. I compose a mental list of worries that are most definitely my issues. (Lists are my way of life. If I could color-code them in my head, I would.)

  • How can I be old enough to have a son who is old enough to drive?
  • Why am I longing for the stroller days when I could strap him in to safety and know where he is every minute of the day?
  • Am I ready for this?
  • What new chapter does this create in my life?

As the list in my head grows, the door opens and my thoughts are interrupted. The examiner walks in with a smile and tells me that my son passed! I almost break down and kiss her feet.

Instead, I smile and say, “Great. Thanks so much.” I am calm, cool and collected. Until I get into the car and see the elation and pride on my son’s face and then it takes every ounce of strength to keep from bawling.

My Son Passed the Driving Test

I give him a huge high five and say all the supportive things I should. My son looks at me and says, “You okay, Mom?”

“Absolutely,” I say, even though I am overwhelmed with emotion.

And then he steals my moment of joy.

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He asks, “Can I drive to my volunteer job this afternoon?”

“By yourself?” I say meekly.

“Mom. Yes. I have my license now.” He says, absolutely NOT cocky but with pride and that sense of freedom.

“Mom, I can drive now; you don’t have to drive me places anymore! Isn’t that great?”

A Matter of Perspective: Joy and Fear


In my head:  “My son got his driver’s license. OMG. He got his license. Yeah! Wait. What does that mean that I don’t have to drive with him anymore?”

But … I love our time together. It’s our time to catch up. I ask him a million questions. We listen to the radio together. Wait. I’m going to miss him.

I know I can’t really say that to him. I get it. It’s the best freedom ever.

And then I think about all the new issues I have to worry about. Now, my time will be marked in 20-minute segments. I can relax while he is at home until he leaves for his destination and then I will worry until I get a text or a call that he made it to his destination. And all of the new rules that will be required.

I can’t be the only one with these thoughts. Parenting is hard. Parenting is wonderful. Parenting is scary.

For more on teen driving, click here:

I look over at my son and say, ”So. I am running out of peanut butter. Can you go to the store and pick some up for me?” His smile is as big as the moon.

Dina Rock is a teacher at The Mandel School and a Fellow on the Teacher’s Advisory Group for National Council on Teacher Quality.

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