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Tales from the Motherhood: Mom learns benefits of having a drivers license-toting teen

Published: Friday, July 18, 2014 5:08 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, July 18, 2014 5:15 p.m. CST

This whole “my kid has his driver’s license” thing sure is fascinating. But maybe fascinating isn’t quite the right word.

For one thing, after 16 years with the same company and no claims, when I added Noah to our car insurance policy last week, the premium more than doubled. Whoa. With safe driving, a lot of prayers and a little luck, it won’t climb any higher. Noah’s a very good driver, but, still, he’s a NEW driver. I remember when I was a sparkly, new driver. Yup.

That shocker aside, there are perks to having a child with increased independence (a child! A child is driving a car! By himself! Hey, anyone else rattled by that? Anyone?), besides the happy glow of his shiny new confidence.

“Got any errands I can run?” he asked, a few hours after he got his driver’s license.

My friends told me it would be like this, but having it actually happen is really kind of thrilling. It’s only been a week, and I’ve yet to realize all of the benefits of his enthusiasm for driving. I liken it to having a smartphone and not yet being acquainted with all of its cool features. The possibilities are endless. He’s been pumping gas for a while (hallelujah!), but a few days ago, just because I could, I had him run down to the gas station on the corner to vacuum out the car. Doesn’t seem that long ago, when I said “no” when he asked if he and his buddies could walk to that very same gas station to buy sodas.

Where has the time gone?

Surely there are other errands I can have him run before the novelty wears off. In the meantime, he’s conjuring other ideas about places he can drive, without the crazy-anxious parentals on-board. I’m reminded of that Dr. Suess book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” Here are the opening lines:

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

“You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

 “You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care. About some you will say, ‘I don’t choose to go there.’

“With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.”

Every parent’s prayer, right? If I’m honest, though, it’s not so much Noah’s driving that worries me, but everyone else’s. Sigh. That darned “Student Driver” sticker is staying put until Holly flies the coop. A few days ago Noah asked if he could drive to a pond in Elburn, to go fishing with the new fishing pole he bought on his birthday.

“Ah, not quite ready for that,” I said, wincing.

“Mom, I’m ready. I’ll be fine,” he said.

“You may be, but I’m not,” I confessed, hand to heart. “Don’t worry, hon, I’ll get there.”

The next time he asked, though, when he said he wanted to bring one of his fishing buddies along, I said yes.

A few hours later, as he sorted his new lures on the living-room floor, I realized what I’d done.

“Hey, didn’t I just say, like, YESTERDAY, that I wasn’t ready for you to do that?” I asked.

“Yup,” he said, shrugging.

His buddy grinned. They ended up not going, this time, as it turned out they had to get home too soon to make the trek out to Elburn worthwhile, but still, I said yes. That’s a head-scratcher. What possessed me to change my mind so quickly? For Pete’s sake, I can still see Noah as a toddler, motoring along in his Little-Tikes Cozy Coupe on the patio behind our house. So, what possessed me? I got ready, I guess.

Geesh, that happened fast.

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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