With senior year looming, my daughter secured her license just one week before school started. As parents, we weren’t keen on letting her drive that first week, especially knowing the traffic craziness that happens during drop-off and pick-up on those initial days. So I rode shotgun the first few days and monitored her comfort level. Attentive and confident, I thought she did fine. And truth be told, I knew she would fare better if Mom wasn’t in the car, my foot on the imaginary brake and body leaning away from the curb. So on Thursday, after we arrived home from picking up her brother at middle school, our daughter made a case to her Dad and I that she should drive herself on Friday.
“I have to go to work, and Mom has to pick up brother and take the dog to the vet.” She made a good argument, but I had already planned for the school/work/vet shuffle. Eventually, my husband and I acquiesced to her plea.
The next morning, with backpack, work clothes and keys in hand, I followed daughter out to the car. She opened the car door and handed me the newspaper that I had left on the seat; I considered the completed crossword and how it would be the last we wordsmithed together while waiting for my son to emerge from middle school. Only one of us would need to pick him up now. I went around to the back of the car and opened the hatch, retrieving a bottle of suntan spray that could roll around and distract her from the drive.
“You’ll unhook the wallet from the lanyard right?” I asked, foreseeing another possible distraction on her five-mile drive.
“I’ll configure it,” she assured me.
I was certain I heard her thinking just go away Mom, so I made my way toward the front door and loitered there, I even opened the mailbox knowing full well that it was empty. Listening for the sounds…I heard the engine, the car being shifted into drive, and then the brake suppressed to stop it from rolling. Finally, my daughter maneuvered the car out of the driveway and on to the court.
I didn’t expect her to look, but was given a nice surprise when my daughter turned and waved. I watched then, as she turned back to face the road. And my eyes followed the car until it moved out of sight. I took a deep breath and a strong sense of pride enveloped me. Back inside, a text message came through from one of the Moms in our kids’ original playgroup, with a photo of the five 4 year olds. ‘Good luck to all as they begin their senior year! May their test scores be high, the college applications easy, and their new adventure amazing!’ I couldn’t have said it better myself.