Having a teenage driver is a sign of the ultimate trust and fervent hope that all the lessons we consciously tried to teach our children growing up were received.
Be safe, be smart and be responsible.
Watching your child drive away for the first time is a mixture of relief for one less carpool, but also, for me at least, fighting off a wave of nostalgia as you remember where you two began.
Now, it’s a common occurrence for my teen to jump in her car and go where she needs to go, and rarely do I think twice about it anymore.
But whenever I drive with her, I see her mimicking many of my own driving habits. Like her tendency to take her corners too tight and too fast—or giving directions to the drivers in front of us, like they can hear us, telling them that now would be a good time to turn or go faster.
And then there are the habits I didn't even know about.
A few Saturdays ago my husband received a text at 6 a.m. from the driveway.
“My car is broke,” she texted.
Luckily, a friend had slept over and was able to drop her off at work, but a few hours later, my husband went to go check the car.
Grumbling, he gets in the drivers seat, turned the key and then stomped back into the house.
“She’s out of gas,” he said laughing.
Later, as we were teasing our kid about her car being “broke” she looks at me and said, “I learned that from you.”
And yes, I am notorious for letting the gas gauge go as low as possible before I will stop. Always have been. Several times I know I was running on fumes before I bothered to pull into a pump.
But it made me wonder what else she learned from me while I wasn’t paying attention. And what my two other children, who I still drive around, are picking up on as well.
It made me think, and as I rushed off to another orthodontist appointment with my two younger ones in the back, I heard my phone start to blow up with texts messages or emails. As I unconsciously reached for the phone, I glanced in the kiddie mirror of my van and saw the faces of my boys.
Hmmm… it can wait, I decided. Whatever it is, it can wait, as I braked for the red light.
It always surprises me what I learn from my kids.
And so, even though I know it's inevitable that I will pass on my hatred for pumping gas, now that I know my kids are watching, my phone is going to stay as far away from me as possible.
That's a promise.