The team of doctors treating Baby Ocho and I have advised me to do everything possible to prevent pre-term labor.
They forgot to mention the absolute necessity of avoiding my teenage drivers.
There are some things that I do terribly as a mother. Driving with newly permitted drivers and retrieving lost teeth on behalf of the tooth fairy are both on the list. I’ve blocked all memories of driving with Greta and Angela. My memories of Michael are fresh.
My father happened to be visiting the day Michael received his permit. In fact Dad went with us to the Secretary of State office. On the way home, Michael asked to drive. I pulled over in a quiet neighborhood and gave him his first chance. He moved the seat. Checked the seat belt. Adjusted the mirrors. Then he looked at me and asked, “Now, which one is the gas and which one is the brake?”
I caught a glimpse of my dad in the rear view mirror. He had bowed his head. I’m not sure if he was silently laughing or perhaps praying. We are now on teenage driver #4. And it is as terrible as ever.
At 47 years old, Sam still thinks that he is invincible, much like my 17-year old son. I wish my husband would be more concerned about things like hypertension and bone loss. But he doesn’t worry about car accidents and dismemberment. This is the perfect disposition for driving with a new teenage driver. And we happen to have one. Josephine received her permit 1 month ago. And she is itching to drive.
All. The. Time.
The first time I drove with Josephine I was bullied into it with the promise of a slurpee. When you are pregnant at age 46, it doesn’t take much. Angela chaperoned our tip, knowing from experience that I am a terrible driving coach. Almost immediately, Josephine ran a red light. Thankfully, it was 10pm at night and we were on back roads. Her response to this driving infraction? “Well, I don’t really like stopping.”
I had no words.
Sensing my rising blood pressure, Angela suggested some music to soothe me. After a few measures, I recognized her selection. I told her to kindly turn off Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor. In case you don’t know, a Requiem is a Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead. Angela has a wicked sense of humor.
The driving school gives you a bright yellow sticker that reads “STUDENT DRIVER”. This is as effective at curtailing the behavior of other drivers as yelling “CORONAVIRUS” in a supermarket. Personally, I think there should be lights and perhaps music playing, much like the ice cream trucks trolling the neighborhood on a summer evening.
In almost 24 years of marriage, Sam and I have owned 7 different cars. Our teenage drivers have managed to crash 5 of them. Angela alone is responsible for totaling 3 cars, 2 belonging to other helpless souls. And I have intelligent, vegetable-eating kids that receive the Good Student Discount on our auto insurance. There is no discernible correlation between advanced calculus and driving ability.
This affects the younger children in our household. I found this note from Mary Frances shortly after one of Angela’s accidents. I keep the note in my wallet for safekeeping. And maybe to ward off bad driving spirits.
By the way, Johnny lost his first tooth the other week. The incident was handled after just two nights, which must be a record for us. I bummed a $1 bill off Michael and sent Josephine to retrieve the tiny gem.
It’s the least they can do to pay me back for teaching them how to drive.