Caution: Terrified Parent

Have you seen the neon yellow Novice Driver magnets around town, often on a car that looks a little less than new, and driven perhaps a little too slowly with a turn signal on far longer than necessary? What you don’t necessarily notice is the ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED PARENT sitting in the passenger seat, grinding a foot into the floor mat in the hopes that the child — the same child that misses the hamper 50% of the time, the same child that “forgot” to put the ice cream back in the freezer, the same child that was born apparently yesterday or maybe the day before — navigates a left turn lane with the grace and precision required.

And, if you haven’t seen the Novice Driver magnets, look around. They are everywhere. I’m talking to you, lady in the black SUV with PA tags and a small school magnet, who went ahead and honked at my kid while she was navigating that tricky turn lane. Let’s give the kids a little grace. Let’s model the good driving behavior we’d like our own children to exhibit, instead of honking at a novice driver and then pulling hard to the right to go around, and then pulling back in front and speeding up with your own future novice driver in the front seat.

A good friend and one of my parenting big sisters said she thinks driver ed is worse than potty training and I fully concur. Give me 100 nights of changing crib sheets at 2 am instead of just one tense trip down Kirkwood Highway. Give me anything where the reward is an m&m, and not a Honda.

Have said it one million times: parenting is not for the weak. Give those novice drivers and their rapidly-aging parents a break — we are all just trying to put our kids to bed alive each night, safe and sound and tucked into their beds with the car keys nowhere in sight.

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