As I watch my child pull the car into the driveway I realize what lunacy it is to let my kids drive. What have I been thinking allowing this … these children who I held, fed, kissed, and generously loved are now in control of metal boxes on rubber charging through the street. It is ridiculous that I allow this.
I worry they will run someone over. We live near a large university, and college students, as long as they avoid eye contact, are invincible when they walk across a street. It makes me nervous driving near the school and I have a few years driving experience. How can a sixteen- or seventeen-year-old handle it?
I worry they will get hit by an errant driver who is texting or wielding a phone and be permanently maimed. I’m concerned they are going to graze the tree next to our driveway with the side of the vehicle. I wonder if they will run out of gas or get a flat tire. We tried to control for these things by buying an old Toyota 4Runner that is pre-dented — it’s OK if they hit the garbage cart; we won’t even notice — and big. It has four-wheel drive so when the snow falls gently to the ground and creates a hazardous driving environment, they will stay on the road. If they get in an accident, they will most likely come out OK since a 1995 4Runner is a heap of steel.
With this assurance, I let my darlings loose on the city because it is convenient and because I am too lazy to get into a car at 6:40 on a dark winter morning to drive them to zero hour. Even if I banned zero-hour classes, I still would not be happy about getting into the car at 7:40 AM.
So now my babies drive. They head off to school, work, and friends and I stay home and wonder. I implore them to drive safely and WEAR A SEAT BELT! I remind them I love them because if the worst happens, I want that to be my last words to them. And I lay down a blanket of trust because that is really the only thing that is keeping me out of an institution.
I have learned a few things in the past three years of teenagers driving. I’ll share.
They will hit something. Hopefully it is not a person or another car. If it is another car, hopefully is it yours. Hopefully it is just the tree around the corner and the airbags will deploy. If that is the case, dig the hood ornament out of the tree and give it to the offender for Christmas as a reminder of the power of a car.
They will fail to tell you when routine maintenance needs to be done. Hopefully it does not require a new radiator. Reading the gauges on the car is an important skill that should be practiced regularly.
They will leave the radio on — loud — and it will startle you when you turn on the engine. This cannot be helped.
They will let a friend drive who has not been schooled in reading gauges. Hopefully this will not result in replacing head gaskets or being stranded in Eau Claire for five hours on the day before Thanksgiving.
They will put a lot of wear on the car while learning to drive stick shift. It may result in a new transmission.
They will do stupid things. They will cost you money: money that could be spent on things that are more fun than brakes and tires. They will always be convinced that they bought the last tank of gas and it is your turn to buy this one. They will drive too quickly and possibly make you car sick.
But if every time they drive they come home safely, all of those things are irrelevant. This is where my faith comes in. Without a faith foundation I would worry more. Now that my children drive cars, I have learned about trusting them and trusting God. If I did not trust either, there would be some unhappy people in this house. I have to trust that they will make good decisions and pay attention. I also have to trust that they are not alone out there. God gave them awesome guardian angels.
From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. (CCC 336)
The Church encourages us to ask angels for help, just as we implore Mary and the saints for intercession. My guardian angel has a standing request to watch over the kids whenever they are in a car. This reality of guardian angels, supported by Church teaching, brings great comfort.
The end goal of parenting is to raise self-sufficient, independent people who will be a benefit to society. That means I have to let them go. I am glad that God will watch over them and keep me from losing my mind. Thanks, guardian angels!
Copyright 2019 Merridith Frediani