Too far!

A mom and her young kids just walked past the house. The kids were on scooters and the mom was walking with them. One of the kids got a little bit too far away from her so she called him back, “That’s too far!”

Yesterday Seb started driving. My young boy is now 16 and two inches taller than me and allowed to operate motor vehicles that have the potential power to maim and kill if not used properly. My sixteen year old got in the car yesterday after getting his learner’s permit and just started driving around town, to get home, to pick up his brother, with other cars surrounding him and all the rules to follow. For the next six months he will be required to have one of us, his parents (or possibly another consenting adult), sitting in the passenger seat telling him what to do, reminding him of the minutiae of things to be constantly thinking about as he drives: where are you going, which lane should you be in, use your blinker, slow down (!), pay attention to what the cars are doing in front of you, pay attention to the signs, don’t hit any cars, don’t kill anyone! Seb already knows a lot of the rules because of the mini test he had to take to get his permit. He knows all the rules intellectually that we just have internalized and mostly ignore now. He quotes them while he drives. I have to remind myself that he doesn’t want to hit anything either. Currently, he wants to follow the rules and do the right things.

So we sit in the passenger seat and tell him and he responds with, “I know!” We tell him where to turn, how to get places. But soon enough, even before the six months is up, he’s not going to need us to tell him what to do every five seconds, or where to go. He’s going to know, and he’s just going to drive. Maybe the only thing that there will be left for us to remind him of is to slow down!

Just slow down a little sooner at the stop sign, at the red light. Just slow down a little earlier because I still have that fear that you are going to hit somebody even though I know you don’t want to hit somebody and probably won’t. Just slow down because you are not an expert yet. Slow down and drive the speed limit because you are a teenage boy, and I know all you want to do is to go fast, and if you get caught, “the powers that be” will happily relieve you of your driving privileges. They don’t trust you either.

But in six months or so, sometime in December, there is going to come a time when he gets his actual license and is going to be allowed to drive without a parent or other consenting adult in the car, and we’re going to have to trust him with his own life and the life of others every time he gets in the car and drives away from us. And we won’t be able to holler after him, “That’s too far! Wait up!”