​“OK, honey, you’re going to run into the stairs . . . Stop!”

“Go ahead; straighten yourself out and let’s back out of the driveway. . . . No, turn the wheel to the right.  No I mean to the left.  Ok you’re going to scrape this side of the car on the gate . . .”

Yeah, my 15-year-old daughter just got her driver’s permit.

I really didn’t think much about it when I handed her the keys at the DMV and told her to drive home.  Hey, she’s been watching me drive forever and she had to have learned something from playing Midtown Madness on the computer, right?

Then again maybe that wasn’t such a good thing.  She’s been driving now for a couple of weeks and she’s doing just great except for the occasional loss of consciousness when she just kind of forgets that she has an actual destination.  As I sit in the passenger seat and try to refrain from barking “GO” whenever the light changes (because that kind of freaks her out) I’m starting to think that driving is my “instrument.”

I live in a household of musicians. Their instruments are musical, mine is vehicular.  So I can empathize with my wife who endures piano students who struggle to get the rhythm of a piece down as I try to not be too bothered as my daughter randomly speeds up and slows down and doesn’t brake or accelerate the way I would.  I then realize that she has only been driving for a couple of weeks, like a grand total of less than 100 miles. Yeah, she’s going to be fine. ​

​I also start to think that the issue isn’t so much her driving, but my not having control of my vehicle.  I’m not all that crazy about not being in control. Especially when I’m not completely comfortable with who is literally behind the wheel.  I have two options, either I just not let her drive and drive myself, or I can make the effort to help her get better so that I am comfortable riding with her.  Ultimately, I think that’s what being a parent of a teenager is about, helping them get to the point where you are comfortable giving them the control that you previously only trusted to yourself.  Giving up control, helping them gain independence ultimately means freedom for us both.  That being said, I’m glad she won’t be able to drive without me until September.

About the Author

Both of Darren Sombke’s daughters are driving now. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]

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