Sunday, April 11, 2010


Until very recently, if you had asked me if I was going to allow my oldest son to get his learner's permit at age 16, I would have said 'NO'. Not just a polite 'NO', an ALL CAPS NO, along with a request that you sign a petition asking our state to raise the legal driving age to 18. Truthfully, if they had a petition to make the driving age 21, I would have signed. I was not totally unjustified in my fear of this child getting behind the wheel. This child? He can't find a hook in the bathroom to hang up a towel...there are FIVE. He can't remember to walk the dogs. If I ask him to load the dishwasher, the finished product looks like the dishes have been dropped into the washer from a high distance, with a backhoe. I just didn't think he would be ready for the responsibility of driving in just a few short years. There is too much attention to detail, and the consequences are so much bigger than pee on the rug or broken dishes.

But the other night, something happened that showed me he might be ready for more responsibility. He is in the crew of his Junior High School play. So, he has been staying after school, 4 days a weeks, until 8pm. They break for dinner at 6pm and all of the parents bring their kids lunch. Then we come back at 8pm to pick them up. Often practice runs late. I however am never late. At least not when it comes to my kids. So, I was there every night at 6 and then again at 8.

One night last week, there was a terrible accident on a busy road near his school. It was a pretty bad accident where, horribly, a family, including a 7 year old, were badly hurt. The road was closed, there was traffic everywhere and I was very late getting to school for the dinner drop off. News of the accident had reached the school before I had. My son was aware that a bad accident, on a road that he knew his mother and brother would have been traveling on, had occurred. At first he didn't think much of it, but then his never late mother was late. And he tried to call my cell phone, but I didn't hear it. I had the music up loud in an effort to distract my younger son from the traffic and bad accident. And my older son thought it was our car in that accident. And he was worried. And even though he stayed with his friends, hanging out waiting for dinner acting like everything was cool, I know his face. And when his brother and I turned the corner and, over the distance of a long hallway, my kids eyes met mine and I saw the relief. And I know he knows what it means to worry, and how fragile life is. And maybe he will be ready, as ready as any 16 year old can be, to take on such a huge responsibility. I guess I will just have to trust him.


avonbyniki said...

Ok, that story just made me cry. We want our children to grow up but I don't know about all of you, I am scared!

Heidi said...

It is scary. It's cool too, though..they become their own person in such a huge way at this age and you really start to get an idea of the adult they are going to be.