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In the passenger seat

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We nod at each other. It’s more than a greeting. It’s acknowledgment. We’re in this together.

We’re Passenger Seat Parents.

I put off letting my teen-aged son get his learner’s permit for as long as I could. But I finally grew weary of his constant reminders of how, you know, unfair it was when everyone else was allowed to drive. Personally, I wanted to keep him off the roads for many more years (I am not sure if it was for his protection or yours), but when he bought his own car, I knew it was time. He was, after all, almost 17 years old.

Because Colorado law dictates that teenage drivers must hold a learner’s permit for one year and one day, as well as keep track of 50 hours of driving time, my son never failed to nag me about how he’d be almost 18 if we didn’t hurry. So we went, he tested, and he passed. He only missed one question. And don’t worry, it’s only the one where he could possibly slam into the backend of your car because he didn’t know how many feet he should stay away from you. (Feel better?)

And, thus, I became a Passenger Seat Parent.

The ride home included such stimulating conversation as “Slow down!” and “Oh, please don’t crash!” and “Why didn’t I let you get your license in Georgia before we moved to the mountains?”

Needless to say, it was slightly frightening.

But months have passed, and conversation has changed. Now it’s more like, “So, tell me about your –don’t hit that car! — college plans and who’s wooing you now. Did that one in Ohio –slow down, slow down!– respond to your –please for all that is holy don’t get so close to other cars! — application yet?”

See? I’ve managed to blend the nag in between real conversation. I’m proud, to say the least.

Of course, the downside to sitting shotgun to your kid driver is when you’re NOT. As in, when you’re a passenger in someone else’s car. The whole “slow down, slow down!” thing doesn’t go over so well with, say, your husband, your neighbor, or your boss….

So, let’s hear it: your glorious experiences with your teen-aged driver. Or better yet, your own recollections of learning to drive.

More of Angela’s writings can be found at her blog, Angela Klocke Giles.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson September 16, 2007

    For almost two years after taking driver’s ed, I had a complex. Anytime the passenger in my car would move his/her leg, I would brace myself for the brake.

    Because that is my only memory of my instructor from driver’s ed: constantly slamming on his brake.

    I don’t think they pay them enough. To cover the therapy bills, that is. 🙂

  • comment avatar Sketchy September 16, 2007

    My driver’s ED teacher was a cutie. So consequently I annoyed my mother to know end with my rolling my eyes at her instructions and replying back, “Weeell, Mr. Julian didn’t say anything about that…”

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  • comment avatar Angela Klocke September 17, 2007

    Amber, I so wish we had driver’s ed here. They have periodic classes around town, but not as a requirement. I’d gladly pay well not to have to sit in that seat myself!

    Sketchy, yeah, that would do it for me! LOL!

  • comment avatar diana/sunshine September 17, 2007

    the hardest part for me was having my son thinking he knew everything there was to know about driving and that his mom, who had been driving nearly 30 years, knew nothing. experience meant nothing to him.

    he’s one stubborn kid. it got to the point where i threatened not to ride with him during that time when he needed his hours. i’m so glad we’re past all of it. it was a time full of tension and arguing – not fun!

  • comment avatar Angela Klocke September 17, 2007

    Diana, this is SO where we are. I am stupid and he is a driving GENIUS!

  • comment avatar Horoscopically Blonde September 21, 2007

    Words defy my son’s driving.

    Mostly it is just grunts, gasps and my curling into a fetal position or hanging from the rear view mirror.

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