“And we’re stopping… we’re stopping… STOPPING!” I squealed as my daughter hesitated with the brakes. It was a Sunday morning, early enough to enjoy the temperate Chicagoland weather with the windows open and very few other drivers on the road.
“Relax Mom, I just started driving, like yesterday!” she responded back as I used the imaginary brake on the floor.
In reality she is a very good beginning driver and I am quite comfortable with her skill. So comfortable, in fact, that we allowed ourselves to take random lefts and rights until we were thoroughly lost. Like a fun quarter game where “heads” indicates a right and “tails” indicates a left, we began our journey.
We ended up travelling down winding country roads, passing horse pastures, watching mist rise from the barn side of a dairy farm and a beautiful lake that we promised each other we would return to.
“Do we have to get back?” she asked with hesitation in her voice.
“Nope”, I replied, “Let's keep driving”.
Now maybe I am missing some crucial level of “the fear factor”, but I wasn't experiencing anxiety, fear or concern. I was just enjoying being a passenger on an unknown journey with my daughter.
I know driving with your newly permitted teenager is supposed to elicit some type of inexplicable horror that can only be described by a
frantic looking parent bracing for impact with one hand on the dashboard and the other hand tightly grasping the “OH JESUS” handle, but that wasn't me.
We talked of my first driving experiences, laughed about my first traffic violation and how this too will become second nature to her as well. She commented that she wanted to be a real “sexy driver” who can nail a parallel parking job and rock a stick shift.
She made me proud and it was one of the moments this summer where i was truly in the moment, enjoying the moment, loving who I was with and having no pressing agendas to return to.
When it comes to children there are key, almost cliche, moments that are supposed to burn a memory in our brains.. You know the ones, like their first day at kindergarten, their first dance, prom, moving away for college. Most people would not rank “teaching their child to drive” as one of their top 10 happy memories with their child, but i think i will.
The next time, and possibly forever, when I drive down an open country road blanketed in the shade of the fully bloomed trees and see horses out to pasture and early morning boaters on a local lake, I will remember this time with Scout.
This common, unassuming journey has become an unmistakable moment for me.. And hopefully for her as well.