Parenting 101 And 1/2

Second Draft:

When you see a parent with gray hair, you can be assured that they have a child that has graduated to a PhD Teenager.  This qualifies the teenager, in his mind, to get a driving permit and be a perfect driver before ever getting behind the wheel.   In the parent‘s mind, Armageddon is on the threshold.

When daughter reached appropriate age, my husband got in the car and rode out to teach her how to drive.  After one hour, my husband came home and said it was not possible.  I became the alternate teacher.  Immediately the gray hairs started popping out like popcorn and I experienced my first mild heart attack.  After what seemed like another lifetime, daughter finally got her permit. 

First trip by herself was to drive to the corner and back.  Then she could drive around the block.  And then she was allowed to go to the store less than a mile away.  After days of this, we settled back into an almost lost calmness and found confidence in her ability.  Weeks went by when the “boom” was  lowered.  Mild accident but there was a huge dent in the side of the car.  Did I mention that it was a brand new car with only 200 miles on the odometer?  I am sure there must have been  a pill that she could have taken to be a perfect driver and avoided this disaster.

Now here comes son.   The king of the fast lane.  His nickname is “wheels” and he has built in ear plugs to tune out parental voices.  Naturally I went into a panic when he graduated to a PhD Teenager approaching the age of driving.  Here is the same scene.  Husband took him out for a lesson and came back with that impossible look.  Once again, I was on call duty for alternate teacher.  The needle on the record seemed to be stuck on the lines “watch out for that car, stay on the road, don’t go so fast, are you listening to anything I am saying”.  My vocabulary never seemed to change.  He now has his permit.  Heaven help him, me, everyone.

As time goes by I gain confidence.  Doomsday came when son got behind the wheel of a car to drive to tutoring lesson.  Seems harmless.  Here comes that word “boom” again.  The police officer told us that he seemed to be going the speed limit and was driving up a hill.  There was a car just over the hill that had stopped to make a left turn and our son  ran directly into the rear of the stopped car.  Realistically, being a parent of two teenagers, I suspect there is more to this story.  He was probably jamming with radio turned all the way up, bouncing back and forth to the beat of the music, searching for any girls in sight, and hit the stopped car before he even saw it.  No one was hurt but the car was totaled.  Did I mention it was a company car?

I keep asking myself  “how can I get through these times?”  Barbara Johnson once wrote “Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and be Happy”.  I could do that.  Long ago I put a “payback curse” on both children for when they become parents.  Really would not want the grandchildren to have a car accident.   Maybe create lots of stress when our children are teaching them how to drive would be nice. 

Joanne Sprouse



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