10 Feb parenting a driving teenager.
Though I continually parent four children on a day-to-day basis, I in no way consider myself an expert. Eighteen years later, I still have much to learn. So I write this post in hopes of helping another parent, like me, who continues to learn as they go. And perhaps this blog post is a bit of a misnomer. Technically, my teenager is not a driving teenager, since she does not yet have her license. But she is a teenager who is driving. With me in the car. While she learns.
Morgan has finally become serious about getting her license. Though she has been old enough to legally drive for 2 years, she hasn’t been in a hurry to learn. This child (she’s still my child) is terrified of driving, maybe even more than I am while riding with her. I jest! Sort of. And I’ve been totally okay with that. Mostly. It would be handy to have someone else to run to the store once in awhile, I’m not gonna lie.
So yesterday, she wants to go to Starbucks, and she asks to drive. And I say yes. And she says, really? And I say, sure. And so the adventure begins.
After assuring her that no, we would not go on the interstate, and yes, I would give her step by step directions on how to get there, we climb in the car. She turns the key, and successfully backs out of the garage, a feat on its own. We begin on our way, and I may or may not have been a nervous wreck. I may or may not have been concerned for the safety of my car, I mean, child. I may or may not have gotten a little sweaty during the drive. So, here’s what I learned as I allowed my child to guide me through the mad streets of Memphis:
- Do not panic. This is essential.
- Or, if you do. Do not show it.
- Calm words and voice are soothing.
- No sudden movements. Your driver is nervous enough as it is, so don’t make her jump.
- No sudden shouts. Your driver is nervous enough as it is, so don’t make her jump.
- Keep her calm by pretending to check your email on your iPhone. If she thinks you are confident enough to trust her while she’s at the wheel, she will be more confident in herself.
- Pretend to check your mail, but secretly keep all eyes on the road.
- Make sure she knows the road rules by pointing out lights and signs, even when she says, I know, Mom.
- Constantly reassure her that she is doing a good job.
- Pay for Starbucks.
And when we’re almost home, she turns to me and says, thanks for doing this, Mom. There’s really no one else that I would feel comfortable with doing this. Cha-ching! Reward for keeping your internal panic to a minimum.
So naturally, I grab the camera when we get home to document this momentous occasion. Warning: Professional driver on closed course. Do not attempt.
Here’s to keeping calm, and driving on. And parental guidance. And rewards that make it all worth it. Cheers!