When I was fifteen and a half, getting a driver’s permit was as simple as going down to the DMV and taking the written test. Then I had six months to practice before I went back tothe DMV to take my driving test. That was it. That was also Jersey, so I might be comparing apples and oranges.
Still, I guess it’s a good thing the process is a lot more involved for my son. First, he had to first take Driver’s Education at the high school, followed by eight-hours of driving with the Driver’s Ed teacher over a period of 2-3 weeks. He has had to maintain a certain GPA, which is confirmed by the school with a sealed certificate. He has to sign a contract stating he will not text, phone, or do anything distracting while driving. And he has to accumulate 60-hours of road time, which we have to keep track of on a log. Then he has to wait a year before he can apply for a license. He will be almost seventeen before he can drive on his own. And this is good, I tell myself: the longer the process, the longer it is before he drives.
But I can only put it off for so long. I mean, I want him to drive, but I don’t want to be the one beside him when he does. My knuckles tend to go white from me clutching the console. My foot hurts from stomping it on the floor, trying to press the imaginary brake on the passenger side of the car. My heart stops from fear of my son driving off the side of the road or hitting a mailbox. And I’m honestly thinking of getting a flashing ‘Student Driver’ sign to mount on the car – at the very least, to warn others of the stress I’m under.
I’m overreacting I suppose, since he got us home safely today after driving around the county for a while; but with the prospect of having to do this three more times after my son earns his license, I’m coming to the realization that it’s not because he’s a bad driver, but because my children, my babies, are growing up; and that is infinitely more terrifyingthan him driving.