Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Flying Solo

Tonight my son drove himself to work, alone, for the first time.

I cannot begin to convey how terrifying a moment this is for a parent. He got his license a few months after he turned 16 (he had to bring his grades up, which he did), but then because he is having to pay for his own insurance, he went almost a year without driving (he just had no interest in getting a job or in driving, either, really). In retrospect, I worry about the lost practice. The specifics of our insurance meant that he was covered as long as he was a student driver, but as soon as he got his license, he was no longer covered. While I suppose we could have paid for his insurance while he was (theoretically) looking for a job, I think it's important that he begin to understand how to make his own way in the world, particularly since college is coming soon.

So, once he got a job and was able to pay for gas and insurance, we started a "refresher course" for him, essentially repeating the things we taught him when he was learning to drive in the first place. It's only been a couple of weeks and while his mechanical skills are starting to come back together (with a few exceptions -- more cause for terror), his judgment is still a bit lacking. He hasn't quite caught on to the fact that maintaining situational awareness seems effortless for mom and dad only because we've been driving every day for 20 years! Do something multiple times a day, every day, for 20 years and it doesn't matter what it is, you'll make it seem easy! And in truth, it's not lack of mechanical skills that causes accidents, it's failure in judgment. There's a reason our insurance doubled when he was brought on to the policy. The insurance companies know the score.

But we have to give him his wings, and it's time to suck it up and do it. He's at the point where he's not going to learn much more from me. I can only hope that he has learned enough to have a close call instead of an accident. Think back to when you were learning to drive. One or the other is pretty much inevitable. And you begin to understand the terror.

Of course, the fact that he ran off the edge of the driveway pulling out didn't do anything to inspire confidence...

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