If menarche marks a young adolescent girl's passage into womanhood, then teaching her to drive a car is a 1st of many steps that empowers her! My daughter is of the belief that now that she'll be a fully licensed driver soon, she can come and go as she pleases. Far be it for me to steal her joy.
For now, I'll just let her think she can come and go as she pleases.. I smile about the knots in my stomach at my lack of urgency for her to get behind the wheel of a car and go anyplace without me being with her. It must be that on some level, of which I am not fully conscious, I don't want her to grow up and leave. But that can't be true. I DO NOT want to inhibit her ability to grow in confidence and become her own person.
Ready or not, I just have to go ahead and open myself up to this opportunity for my own lessons on letting go and being vulnerable and having less and less control over her life, slowly allowing a transformation IN ME.. So..
At 9am sharp Sunday morning, my indigo child was ready for her first lesson behind the wheel. My brother took her out for a 2 hour spin. She returned elated and confident.. My brother's a very good teacher, with tons of patience and a sense of humor to boot! I don't know what I would do without him. He's my baby brother and he's got skills!
I love it when my daughter snuggles with me. So I'm reading and barely watching t.v. later in the evening when she snuggles up to me and asks for more behind the wheel time! "Now? Uncle T isn't here! Oh, my. It's my turn? O...K!" Here come the knots.
I get her to the driving spot and we switch places in the front seat. Before my eyes, she went from being a new born to a teenager to a grown up with a fully developed sense of herself and the world.. ready to take it all on. And despite my clarity about this rite of passage, she's still only 15. Just a baby. Driving a car is just one aspect of the big picture, and wow! I don't even want to think about what else she's going to face.. that will require me to let go.
Intuitively, she has a closer connection to God and or spirituality than most grown ups I know. Sometimes I think, even more so than me. And as bright as she is, she always surprises me with her candor and honesty. I got a glimpse of her behind that wheel.. Not just her, with both hands on the wheel, paying attending, keeping her eyes on the road, but of her - the abstract and the organic and holistic her. The fruit of my womb. MY greatest teacher and greatest gift to the world. Getting ready to leave my nest? Driving a car.
Observing her from the passenger seat, epitomizes what it feels like not to be in control of every aspect of her life any more. At first I found it almost unbearable to sit there and let her start the engine, adjust the seats, and mirrors, and put it in gear... But as she was doing all the needful things she'd learned from the books, and her uncle and me, I knew I had to trust that she will stop at the cross roads and remain upright, remembering what she's been taught.... And follow the 5 Keys to Safe Driving (& Living when you think about it)
Isn't it wonderful? Isn't this why we live and breathe as parents? Can you believe we've come this far?
All we can do as parents is live our beliefs and be honest with our children about the Roads ... aka The Journey.
[This article was originally written and published here, in 2010, before my daughter was 16. She's now 23 and in grad school. She drove there.]
Anyone can teach you about love... but I can make you good at it!
| This commentary by Jackie D. Rockwell | All Rights Reserved © 2016 |