Monday, March 19, 2018

The Five Stages of Driving with a New Teen Driver

Moms, the time is coming, mark my words. This blog *used* to be about the hecticness of life raising young boys - potty training; naps; strollers; etc.

And, well, now?  Time sure does fly. Now I have two teenagers and a soon-to-be-teen. One of which is a SIXTEEN YEAR OLD DRIVER. Let me just say that my gray hairs have quadrupled since October 5, 2017, the day Eldest turned 16, passed his exam and received his Massachusetts driver's permit.

Much like the stages of grief (and there is absolutely grief involved when you have a teen driver), here are the 5 stages of driving with a new teen driver:

1. Optimism. Stage One is definitely optimism. You think, "Hey, he did it! He passed the written test. He knows all about driving now! I'm *sure* he can handle driving (no more than) 30mph in town. That's not very fast. This should be a piece of cake! And how great will it be to have someone else able to schlep everyone to and from their sports?!"

2. Apprehension. But then comes Stage 2. Once you're in the car and securely buckled, with the child you practically just birthed at the wheel, the crazy thoughts begin: "Wow, this is a big car. Can he really handle it? What about all the other drivers out there? Isn't there a sign we can put on the windshield to indicate he's a new driver? Why isn't there a foot brake on my side? Maybe this isn't such a good idea after all...I really don't mind schlepping to sports for another 3, 4, 5 years. It's not so bad."

3. Confusion. After Apprehension comes Stage 3, where Confusion sets in. You begin to wonder, "Why am I so nervous? This is a kid who has played driving and racing videos since he was 3 years old! He's driven plenty of go-carts. And the lawnmower. And he had that big ride-on Cadillac Escalade that he drove his brothers in. He should know how to drive, right?"  And hang on (for dear life. Literally.), because Stage 3 merges directly into Stage 4, because then you become even more confused when your child, in fact, is NOT an excellent driver.

4. Abject Terror.  Oof, Stage 4. At this point, the optimism has waned and you're already apprehensive and confused as you find yourself white-knuckle gripping the "oh shit" handle in your car (the handle on the ceiling above the passenger seat), and your body is swerving in the hopes that the car will swerve along with you to avoid the mailboxes and CURBS that are coming dangerously close to your entire right side. Yet you hold it all in and calmly state, "Drive a little closer to the middle, honey. You're getting too close to the side, ok?", but inside of your brain you can see yourself curled up in the fetal position sucking your thumb and wondering whose bright idea it was to procreate in the first place. And don't even get me started about backing out of the garage/driveway and that time he *thought* he had put the car in Forward but it was actually still in Reverse and we came about 2 inches from hitting the neighbor's mailbox. Yep, that's Stage 4 alright. Or when you finally let him drive on the highway and he needs to pull in to the parking lot but he's in the left lane and not the right lane to turn and he switches lanes (signaling, of course) yet he "didn't see" the car that he cut off. Until we hear the furious beeping and see the one-finger wave behind us. Did I already mention the amount of new gray hair I have?

5. Relief.  But oh, then there's lovely Stage 5. Relief, sweet relief. Please note that this stage *only* occurs when the car is parked safely in the garage, engine off, and your feet are on solid ground. And you vow not to do that again anytime soon.

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