(Throw-back photo of Jimmy and the car he wishes he could drive.)
Stay off the streets. Jimmy is driving.
Yes, the “baby” of the Anderson clan has a permit. Perseverance paid off. It wasn’t easy, learning all those rules in a second language, and it took some doing. But this kid’s a go-getter and he got it.
I remember the day Grant got his permit. We were standing in line waiting to take the test with a couple of classmates. One fifteen-year-old was the forth of five sons, and I remembering saying to the boy’s mom – I’ll bet this is easy for you by now. And she assured me that, no, it is every bit as terrifying, every time around.
I was thinking about her comment last week, sitting in the passenger seat while Jimmy practiced in our neighborhood. We drove three times past the same neighbors who gave us knowing grins each time we circled. Our first couple of loops were relatively uneventful, the biggest challenge a car turning left and a quick lesson on right-of-way. But by loop three some neighborhood kids had taken the streets. One young towhead who spends hours playing baseball with his brother, reminding me of my own, hit one foul down the driveway just as Jimmy was approaching. You’ll need to stop and let him get it. I said it calmly and we did just fine. Then, a couple of blocks over and another heart-stopping moment for the mom of new driver. Two small children on one side of the street, their puppy sitting at the opposite curb. And all those rules about right-of-way going right out the window. Jimmy, we should stop. We slow, stop, wait. No one moving. Okay, slowly. And puppy and children stay planted while Jimmy takes the Jeep safely through.
That’s when I remembered Mrs. Plaisance, mom of five boys, and I felt a bit smug. I’m doing a LOT better, forth time around, thank you very much. Two near disasters and I didn’t even panic. No screaming, no flailing. I didn’t even have to use the invisible passenger-side brake. Of course, I’ve been deferring to Dad for driver’s instruction every day since.
It was inevitable. Adding two more boys, teenagers, and of course they’d need to drive. We were well into the adoption process when that particular thought hit me. Oh rats.
But I’ll have to admit, this summer with busy boys calling me in the middle of meetings at church, needing rides, I do think I’m ready. Too much chauffeuring, and I’m ready to put them behind the wheel.
Felipe’s working nearly fulltime at a carwash this summer, and with a full schedule and soccer most evenings, we’re trying to figure out when he’ll find time to study for his permit exam. He’s a bit more cautious than younger brother, steers clear of failure, and may need some prompting. We’re thinking all that time spent washing other people’s cars, and depending on Mom for rides to and from, might just do the trick. If I had to guess I’d say the kid’s scared to death we’ll make him drive an ’85 SAAB and figures he’s rather save his cash for better wheels before suffering that particular humiliation.
We’ve been extremely fortunate, and if I believed in it this would be the time to knock on wood. Our teenaged drivers have done minimal damage. One bump backing into a black car randomly parked in a cul-de-sac after dark. A collision with a light pole on an icy street. As far as this Mom knows, the only tickets have been for illegal parking. (Luke’s first week last fall at his new apartment by the U of M and his car was towed. He just happened to be away at a 3-day retreat when it happened, so he had to pay triple at the impound lot.)
All said, not bad. So alas. Here we go. Again. Prayers welcome.