People warn you about losing your virginity. Everyone likes to share their “first time” story, whether it be on their wedding night or at their prom, and they are usually no holds barred with the details. Then there is the first labor and delivery story. No such thing as “too much information.” They share mucus plugs and painful contractions, horror stories about things coming out that you didn’t know came out while you were pushing out a baby…as I said, total TMI.
Those tidbits of advice are always very helpful because it puts you in the right frame of mind. After I had my first baby, I told people that after going through labor, you could walk the streets naked and it wouldn’t matter anymore. Once your husband has witnessed the miracle of birth and your doctor has seen things that you are surprised don’t blind him, it’s all good. It is all out there. There is no more modesty after that ordeal.
But then, I guess people get busy with their lives. We talk about first words, first steps, but everyone goes at their own pace so no one really pays that much attention. And then, before you know it, your kid turns 16 and it is time for him to get his driver’s permit.
I am sorry, what did you say? This child who I nursed and carried in my arms, who I protected from falling and scraping his knees, is now going to get behind the wheel of a car and start to drive? No, I am not ready for this. No one has told me about this.
Since no one warned me or walked me through the experience of driving with your child for the first time, let me be the one to give you a play-by-play. It is horrible. It is worse than labor. You cannot take drugs because if you get pulled over, you will get arrested. You try holding onto imaginary things that are on the passenger side, which is currently your side of the car, in order not to reach for the steering wheel. You sweat from places that you didn’t know sweat could come from. You want to scream, but you can’t because you don’t want to give your child a twitch. You want to instill confidence, but you are afraid to look out the window for fear that he might hit something.
Did I say it was horrible?
The first time I took son #1 driving, we drove to his school. This involved driving over a small bridge. I had him going five miles an hour and told him that the folks behind us wouldn’t mind. It was not pretty, but we got there in one piece. I even had him put his hazards on so the other drivers would think something was wrong with the car and not wrong with the person who was the passenger in the car. It was the longest 15 minutes of my life.
Until the highway. That was the longest 15 minutes of my life. I felt like there was a heavenly cloud protecting us, like the one that protected the Jews walking through the desert. That is the only reason we survived that first trip on Route 4. Coming back home was not as bad, but that could be because I had finally passed out from all of the stress (and no, stress is not code for valium).
I honestly cannot say that it gets easier to drive with your first child who drives. I would take him at night, when there were fewer cars on the road, so we could practice turning into his “own space” and not the space where the other car would be. I would practice my lamaze breathing so I wouldn’t hyperventilate. Truth is, when my mom drives with me, she still slams on her imaginary break, so what does that say about my future as a passenger?
I can say, however, that it gets easier with driver number 2. That may be because your nerves are already so shot that they don’t even react anymore, who knows.
So, to parents of first time drivers—you will get through it. It is not easy. It is never easy again. It is a whole new set of things to worry about. But, that is what happens when you are blessed with children. You teach them the tools, you give them wings, and you hope and pray that they will fly, or drive, safely.