So, a few days ago this happened:
Yes, that is my daughter. Yes, that is a learner’s permit in her hand. And—because we live in Alberta—yes: she is behind the wheel at fourteen. Legally.
And since last Friday (when she passed the test), a day hasn’t gone by that she hasn’t greeted me as I came in the door with, “Mom… can we go for a drive?” By which she means, of course, “can we go out and I’ll drive?”
So far, so good. I mean it! Yes, I did have a few heart palpitations at first when she was just getting the hang of accelerator vs. brake and how much to turn the wheel so as to avoid scraping the lamp posts in the parking lot. But once she got the basics down, it turns out she’s actually a really careful driver, and I’m not nearly as terrified as I thought I would be.
Which is great, because learning how to drive is an important life skill, and one that I personally believe is better if learned while still young and eager. It’s a ticket to independence, after all. Even if she won’t have enough money to buy her own car for many years yet, she’ll be able to drive one when she can afford it.
On the other hand: my baby! Where did the years go?
Raising teenagers is—if nothing else—a humbling experience. First off, you have to adjust to being wrong (and dumb and embarrassing). About everything. All the time. And if that’s not enough humility, you get to feel old. Really old. You don’t know all the hip music anymore, you don’t wear leggings as pants and you don’t know how to use SnapChat. Old.
There are certain rites of passage that seem to bring this message home more than others: birthdays, graduations, braces… For me, sitting beside my teenager while she navigates the streets successfully behind the wheel of my car tops the list.
But while I may feel old, more than anything else, I feel proud.