My unofficially assigned purpose as husband and father —

Remain calm even in the face of teen danger.

One parent almost always assumes that responsibility when their teen enters that frightening stage called learning to drive.  With a 15 year old son who just last week managed to obtain his learner’s permit, cool as a cucumber has become my sole objective.  Not only does Miriam acknowledge my ability to ride in the passenger’s seat without the aid of an adult diaper, Nate endorses me wholeheartedly, almost bows in my presence.  That in itself is bone chillingly eerie.

I earned my credentials a few years ago, when Alyssa (who turns 19 in a few days) was learning to drive.  She refused to get behind the wheel if her mother was within shouting distance of our vehicles.  The arm rests and passenger side dashboard of our family van bore deep and permanent indentations from the labor contraction-esque grip Miriam imposed on them as Alyssa shifted our car’s transmission into DRIVE.  Teaching Alyssa to drive immediately became my job.  Once Alyssa became comfortable behind the wheel, Mir was allowed entry into our vehicles, but only if bound and gagged.

I’m kidding.. sort of.

Alyssa learned well, a careful student who has always exercised good judgement behind the wheel.  Well, maybe not always.  I taught her to drive.  We both have a tendency towards a heavy accelerator foot.  My daughter is either really good at putting on a good poker face in front of me or else she has never been pulled over for any traffic violation, never has had a fender bender.  The girl has earned my confidence by exercising complete, mature responsibility behind the wheel.

I think I have already shared in previous blogs how much riding with my son behind the wheel makes my hair turn grey.

Last Thursday morning, I was privileged to witness this — 20150319_083118That’s the boy taking the written portion of the DMV exam.  His mother nervously texted me the entire time Nate and I were at the DMV.

Is he nervous? (not as much as you are)

What is he doing right now? (taking the test and picking his nose)

Do you think he will pass? (yes.. I think 16 two hour classes should have prepared him)

I am so nervous.  Do I need to call the school to let them know he will be late?  (I would never have guessed.. no, we are going to make it with a few minutes to spare)

He passed.  Missed one question on the test.

Now comes the hard part.  The kid wants to drive all of the time.  I got a good laugh the other evening on my way home from work.  About two blocks from my house, Nate and Miriam passed me going the opposite direction.  Nate had a huge grin, Mir was white as a ghost, her lips tight with fear.  Two minutes after I got home, so did they.  He’s driving with you from now on!

The boy actually had the nerve to ask to drive my six speed manual stick shift home last night — with Miriam in the back seat.  I didn’t bother to answer..  I couldn’t answer through my laughter.

Teaching a boy to drive is so much different than teaching a daughter.  It reminds me of the time when I coached Alyssa’s basketball team and Nate’s basketball team the same year.  The girls did everything their coaches asked, were distraught if they disappointed.  The boys were terriers with no care for what their coaches asked.. because they thought they already knew enough to play the game.   At least in my family, that is the difference in the way they drive.

I am remaining calm.  seriously… I am.