Sunday, June 16, 2013


Lilly had her first drivers ed class on Monday and on the way home she asked if she could stop and drive for the first time. I said sure, and we went up to the high school parking lot which was empty and I let her practice accelerating and stopping.

She is my third child so this is the third time I've had the honor of driving with a young person for THE VERY FIRST TIME! This is no small rite of passage, especially in our car-centric society. Just remember how excited you were to finally drive, the doors it opened, the freedom it provided. It's a big deal and I was just happy and honored to be the one who got to share that moment with her.


I had forgotten the kind of lose-control-of-your-bodily-function inducing fear this "honor" can provoke.

I mean, for god's sake, she kept saying "Is this the 'go pedal' or the 'stop pedal'?" 

No. I really don't like driving with anyone who does not yet know how to drive. Nobody does.

And now, for the love of God, the state requires we drive with these people a minimum of fifty hours before allowing them to even test for their license. Really? And ten of those hours are supposed to be after dark, when I am already in my pajamas.

Who does this? 

Now, unlike the reading log which I confessed to faking, I will not confess to faking the driving log. Because that is against the law. And that has serious ramifications and surely someone will know of an inexperienced driver who came to great ill and they will send me hate mail. So I would never, ever suggest that you fake the driving log.

However, just theoretically, I am suggesting that maybe, not everyone drives the full fifty hours before they get their license. It is possible.

When we went to get Grace's license, we realized we had "forgotten" to log many of the final hours. Now, I knew from when I took Atticus that they "require" this log, but they don't actually ask to see it. So I assured Grace we did not need it. But she panicked and wanted to fill it out right there in the DMV parking lot. I think this is like emptying the bullets from the murder weapon just before going in to the courthouse.

Turns out it is very difficult to "recall" all the trips you have taken and we had a difficult time filling in the form. "For god's sake just make up some dates and times and say we drove to Grandma's" I helpfully suggested. 

Even this was hard, "Wait," I said, as I gave it a quick look-see, "who can believe we drove to Grandma's on a Monday morning in two hours but drove back the next day for six hours? And it took you an hour and half to drive to Dairy Bar?" But of course, as I predicted, they didn't even glance at the driving log when we went in to get the license.

Fifty hours. Around here, most of the trips we take are ten to twenty minutes. So if you break that down, well, you do the math. I think that means you have to let your kid drive every day for like the next twenty years. 

And I know a neighbor with 15-year-old quadruplets. What the hell is she supposed to do? Drive around with a teenaged chaffeur full-time for the next six months? There really isn't enough Xanax in the world.

And while I applaud the effort behind this law, (it makes perfect sense to make them practice a lot before they get their license) I just question how helpful it is to have a parent next to you for that long, clutching the dashboard and gritting her teeth trying to stay calm as you jump another curb or barely misses another garbage can.

You see, it turns out, when you first learn to drive you are VERY nervous about oncoming traffic so you tend  to hug the right side of the road. Which is where the nervous parent sits, constantly seeing you are about to drop off the side of the road or hit a pedestrian. 

When Atticus was taking lessons, I mentioned this to my friend Jan asking if her son ever drove too close to the side to which she simply answered, "Mailbox, mailbox, mailbox, MAILBOX!!" I guess that's a yes.

It's enough to drive us to subterfuge to move the process along. Like my friend "Mona" who DID do fifty hours with each of her kids but then confessed that after having a very difficult time getting child number 3 signed up for enough driving lessons realized child number 3 had a conflict she could not get out of. Knowing this put her at risk of not getting the lessons done in the alotted time and aware it was nearly impossible to reschedule, she did what any resourceful mom would do....she sent child number 2 (they look a lot alike, everyone mixes them up) to do the driving time disguised as child 3. I wonder if the instructor was curious at all as to why this kid looked so much more mature and drove so much better than she had the week before.

See what these ridiculous requirements drive us to? Pun. Ha ha.

And how does this compare to how we learned to drive? How many hours were we required to drive with our parents? Umm, well, let me see, add these numbers and then carry the one, oh yeah, NONE!

That's right folks. We took the class, we waited six months or whatever it was and then we went for the exam. I don't remember driving more than half a dozen times with my mom in the car.

However, I DO remember once before I had my license when trying to back out of the garage I accidentally left the car in drive and nearly rammed our mint green Ford LTD through the back wall of the garage. 

It scared the beejesus out of me but not my mom.

She wasn't in the car.


  1. How odd a system... here you just pay through your nose for 30 lessons or something and then take your exam. In Belgium they get to drive with a parent as well. As much fun that country may be, their drivers are the worst of North-West Europe.

    Which is where the nervous parent sits, constantly seeing you are about to drop off the side of the road or hit a pedestrian.

    'Which is where the nervous parent sits, constantly seeing you are about to drop off the side of the road or hit a pedestrian.'

    In the hypothetical case of an actual pedestrian being present, in the US. In Holly, MI however, this is actually possible, the pedestrian being me walking between Mary's house and Holly foods.

    Not this year though. This year Mary and me will be walking quite safely, albeit not ver enthusiastically in her case,in Europe, since it is the only way to get into any nice dowwntown here.

    1. How much does it cost? We pay around $500 for school and driving lessons.Stop generalizing based on Holly, MI. There are kids all over playing in our streets and walking to the library and to school and to Dairy Bar....

  2. May I ask why it is required to log in at some account to comment here? It is a major pain in the butt, you know.

    1. I think I added some steps because I was getting a lot of spam. Some of it in Chinese.

  3. Perhaps next to having an alcohol limit on driving, they should also have one for commenting on blogs, in order to limit the amount of mistypes.

  4. Too, too funny, Judy. Just imagine this, logging those hours in Switzerland, filled with round a bouts, winding, pencil thin village streets, and steep mountain passes. Oh yes, and the cars all have stick shifts to add to the fun. That said, my kids gave me the ultimate compliment when they told me, "We rather learn to drive with you mom. You don't yell." No wonder, I was so terrified I was speechless. ha ha

  5. OMG Pat I cannot even IMAGINE learning to drive anywhere in Europe. I have NO problem with downtown Chicago but I would rather ride a camel than try to drive in Florence ever again. I know that's not exactly where you live, but the pedestrians, the roundabouts, the pencil thin village streets aaagggghh!!! You are a brave woman indeed.