The one thing we all know is that things rarely stay the same for long. Just when we start getting comfortable and in a routine, life has a way of shaking things up to keep everything interesting. Before you start jumping to conclusions (I know this sounds like another "I'm heading off somewhere else" editorial) I'm not going anywhere, at least not that I know of yet. I'm staying right here where I want to be and hopefully am wanted.
Instead I'm talking about two of the most joyous yet scariest things that can be brought upon a parent. And in my case I've doubled up on them. By the time this issue hits the 'stands my oldest child, my 15-year-old son, will be starting driver's training and my youngest, my newborn daughter, will be about two weeks old. Boy, talk about getting hit on both ends!
I like to say that I'm ready for both but to be honest time will tell how I manage. I figure since I've raised the first one fairly well and he's managed to keep his nose pretty clean, the second won't hold many surprises. I like to think a lot of happy thoughts. At this point the little one worries me less. Sure she'll change my schedule, my routine, and my life but I know that she'll be fine and that it'll be up to us to look out for her. Turning my son loose, on the other hand, to start taking care of himself scares me.
I can still remember being a 16-year-old with my new license and the keys to my dad's '56 F-100 Custom Cab with a 390 and a three-on-the-tree. Lots of torque and not much weight over the overly-hard G-60s. I resisted the urge to do anything really stupid and never had a fender-bender or tore anything up (much). Now I can feel myself wanting to give the old "back in my day, things were different" speech. But I think they really were, weren't they?
The thought of turning him loose in a car on his own in a year terrifies me and it's not just his driving abilities that worry me. It's the same thought I had when I rode a motorcycle: I could be as safe as possible but if the other guy does something stupid I have no control.
Back in my day (here I go) the only things I had to worry about while driving was changing the cassette tape and holding the occasional Big Gulp. These days it's cell phones, texting, GPS and before too long, Internet surfing. I'm not against those things; I've been known to do a few of them myself. But I also know that the teenage mind has enough going on in it and adding navigating a two-ton vehicle to the list can get interesting real quick.
I grew up in a family that made their livings around wrecked cars. My grandfather owned a towing business, my dad wrote insurance estimates, and my uncle fixed them. I spent lots of time wandering around my grandfather's tow yard looking at wrecked cars with smashed windshields (most smashed from the inside out) and maybe through osmosis I gained a healthy understanding of the damage that could be done by not giving cars the respect they deserved.
The driver's license is just part of it. He's already taking an inventory of the unfinished projects and trying to lay claim to something. This is certainly better than him tearing out the pages of Motor Trend and asking for the latest 123Xi-L. If he can take something that's worn out and put it back on the road he'll take better care of it. He's never been one that has enjoyed going to car shows with me, at least not the show itself; he's enjoyed the drive there whether it was 30 minutes or 8 days. So at least he's learned that much from me--old cars are fun and should be driven.
As for the little one, I still haven't met her, but as much as my wife will try to make her a little princess I'm determined to give her some time in the garage and show her how to fix a few things for herself. I'm not sure what the hot rods will run on when she's old enough to drive but I'm sure we'll still be playing with them.