Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Teenagers, Driving, and Jello

Not so long ago I received a text message from a friend. It said that she had seen a sign that made her think of me. The sign said “Raising teenagers is like trying to nail jello to a wall.” I responded that it sounded about right.

My oldest now has her learners permit. I love her. I'm afraid she may kill us. But I love her. Here's the thing. I am not a patient person. I do not have a knack for teaching someone to drive a moving vehicle. Truth be told I don't even really enjoy driving myself. I drive out of necessity at this point not for the joy of driving. Also I believe it is entirely possible that it stresses her out to try to learn from us. It's all “don't put us in the grass” and “not too far over! Do you want us to get hit by oncoming traffic?” It is virtually impossible for any of us to relax. I think driver's ed instructors should be given some sort of medal of valor or something. They could be knighted if we still did things of that sort.

I do want her to learn to drive. I have thought this over and I realize all the perks to having another driver in the house. She can run to town and grab things at the store for us. She can pick up a pizza. She can take her sibling to and from school. The perks to her driving are endless. The possibilities are endless.

On the other hand like I said the possibilities are endless. She could have a wreck. You know I had a wreck not long after I got my license. What if she were to have a wreck? What if she got hurt? I couldn't stand it. Plus it requires me to let go. I'm not really a fan of letting go. I'm more of a choke hold kind of person. I latch on and hold on for dear life.

I am a teenagers worst nightmare. I ask questions. I look at them and see the little girls they once were and not the young ladies that they are. The time it goes so quickly I'm afraid. Yesterday they were riding around in Barbie jeeps and today one is learning to drive an actual car. One day they are learning to make chocolate milk and the next day they are learning chemical equations in chemistry. I ask what they have for lunch and who they sat by at lunch. I suppose I'm supposed to ask which boy they think has the cutest smile. I'm supposed to be getting in shape and getting crazy strong so I can scare prospective dates away. I prefer for them to only like boys who they are unlikely to ever meet. So far they only like boys who are in the movies. Boys at school have little to offer in their eyes. I am quite certain they are correct in their assumptions of them as of course I was once a teenage girl and I know about teenage boys.

When my oldest turned ten I cried. I cried in the middle of the newspaper office while trying to put in her happy ad. Double digits is the beginning of the end. It seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at the same time. Teenagers. Trying to take care of them, teach them, and let them go. I think it is about as easy as nailing jello to a wall. It's hard on the parents and on them. It's hard being in that space between child and adult. It's even harder seeing them as growing up and not as children. I think they will always be my children. I just have to get to the place where they can become adults and not grown children. As adults we drive. I think I will start pricing fruit baskets. The driver's ed instructor is going to deserve it.

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