Oh that glorious day when your teenager can finally get a license! As a single parent I looked forward to that day but I dreaded it as well.
Having to get up at 5am most mornings made picking Hailey up from her job at that mall at 10pm more than a little inconvenient, I was tired. Then there were the rehearsals for drama club and doing homework at a friends house and a million and one other reasons that she needed to be taxied from point A to point B.
I was very glad that our state, Utah, requires kids to have their learners permits for a minimum of six months before they can get a license, but they can have them for up to a year.
As soon as Hailey turned 15 she got her learners permit and I had her drive everywhere. This may have been the most nerve racking experience of both of our lives. I sat in the passenger seat, trying to allow her to make the decisions but unable to restrain myself from offering advice. She sat in the drivers seat wishing she had duct tape. I tried not to make her any more nervous than she already was but it was hard! It was one time I really, really wished she had a Dad to teach her these things, and get the gray hair that goes along with it!
During that year we both learned a lot. Hailey learned how to drive under different conditions with the comfort of someone with her. I learned how to let go, just a little, and trust Hailey to make the right decision.
People always talk about how unsafe teenage drivers are but there were many times we sat waiting to turn left with me thinking she could have made it ten times over, while she waited until she had pretty much a clear view to the next state before making the turn.
I was grateful we had that year, Hailey learned to drive in wet conditions, how to check the oil and get the tires rotated. I learned to be patient.
After her year was up and she got her license we had a clear set of rules she had to follow in order to drive the car. Her driving curfew was 10pm, every day, no excuses. She was not allowed to have more than one other person in the car. Seat belts were mandatory.
I know other families have other rules, and for other single mothers the thought of having one more person to ferry the little kids to soccer practice is heaven. However, remember, nothing is more distracting than siblings, no one will fight with you or get under your skin like a little brother or sister. If your teenager will be driving siblings those siblings need new car rules as well and everyone needs to understand the responsibility of driving a car.
Although I was glad I didn’t have to do all the driving I still waited every night to hear the garage door open before relaxing. I frequently reminded Hailey that she was behind the wheel of a deadly weapon and she should treat it that way.