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Tales From the Motherhood: A trip to the DMV and a road test

Holly passed her road test. She has a license to drive! No thanks to her brother and me, though. 

“Mom, take my car to pick her up, and tell her yours (the one she planned to use for her road test) is in the shop,” Noah said, as I grabbed my purse on my way to get her after school.

“No, no need to inject extra anxiety into her big day,” I replied, winking at my clever kid. He remained hopeful. I reached for my keys. Wrestling ensued. I’m still not sure how I beat my not-so-little-powerlifter to the grab, but yeah, I’ve had a few years learning the dance.

“It would have helped break the tension,” he whispered an hour later as we waited at the DMV for Holly’s name to be called. “Missed opportunity.” Maybe. Hanging at the DMV isn’t exactly fun. Unless you wake before dawn to get there, the line you find is always a long one. It moves, but still. A room filled with nervous people. Gah!

“I still don’t understand why I’m here,” he said, as we settled into the plastic chairs. I’d asked him to come cheer her on and reminded him she’d been there on his big day, three years before. It really didn’t take much convincing, to be honest, but still. It’s the DMV. And it was but a few days into his first college spring break. There were a thousand other places he could have chosen to be. But he’s Holly’s big brother and takes his post very seriously. Yes, yes indeed.

“We can come back tomorrow if you want,” he said a while later, after she sat down with us after her road test. The woman next to us just about gasped at his antics. I have to admit, the boy has skills. His sister cracked a smile. Good thing, too, since she was about to pose for the pic on her new license. But, yeah, it had been a long hour for our girl. 

“Anyone want a mint?” I’d asked 30 minutes before (while we waited for her test), as I pulled a fistful of mints out of my purse.

“Hey, didn’t we … . Oh, that was a dream,” Noah said, and then proceeded to recount some wacky dream he’d recently had about us picking up ginormous armfuls of mints. We laughed our heads off. Our silliness was Holly’s nightmare, though, one that began when we were asked to produce our car insurance card a few minutes earlier. Seems the one in my wallet had expired. The one I’d been mailed a few weeks before was on my desk at home. You know, in a pile. Of stuff! So. But all was not lost! Just a few days earlier I’d called my insurance agent and asked her to conjure a quote. You know, the holy-smokes-I-now-have-two-teenagers-on-my-car-insurance-policy! quote. Yeah, that one. 

“Give me the damages, Bobbi,” I’d said, and she did — and emailed me a copy of our current cards, which I’d printed and placed in our car’s glove box. GOOD THING.

Among other things that were different from three years before, when we made the same pilgrimage to the DMV for the same rite of passage? My girl declined to drive off on some random quest the day she got her license as her brother had done. (I’ll never forget the look on the big red dog’s face when Noah drove away sans parents, or the call from his cellphone, 10 minutes later. 

“WHAT HAPPENED???” I asked, my heart in a frenzy, but he’d merely called to ask me about the light at the corner of Fabyan and Trader Joe’s (that’s what we call it). WOW! Yes, I can still feel the adrenaline three years later, but I digress.)

Something else was different, this time, too. You know that moment on road test day when you watch your sweet daughter walk outside and get into a car with a strange man? (No offense to the hard-working folks at the DMV, “strange” or not, but like it or not, for this mom, a “strange man” is any man I don’t know.) Yeah. I’ll say it again. WOW. That was a scene I’d not imagined. So glad it’s behind us!

Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at

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