OPINION COLUMNS

Be still my maternal heart; Teaching teen to drive is toughest task yet

By Danielle Scroggins | Published Wednesday, July 20, 2016
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I thought the hardest thing in my parenting career was potty training. I was wrong. It’s teaching my child to drive a car.

Scariest. Thing. Ever.

My oldest is a strong-willed child. In fact, she might be the definition of a strong-willed child. When she was 3 months old, her babysitter gave me the official “strong-willed child how-to-guide.” Three months. That’s something.

So you can imagine how potty training went with such a cutie. While she liked to do everything “I-self,” it very much had to be her idea first. I’d given in to the idea of sending Pull-ups with her to college when she suddenly figured it all out.

That might have been the first time I told myself, “It will all work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.” Best advice I’ve given myself thus far in this parenting gig.

Sometimes I have to give myself that advice more than one time a day. For example, when I’m teaching that same child to manuveur heavy machinery while also abiding by state laws and boundaries.

Did I mention it was the scariest thing ever?

Again, I’m faced with her wanting to do it “I-self.” And again, she’s strong-willed. Only now there are other people to consider, not just bodily functions. Other drivers. Other properties. She wants to drive too fast or too slow. She wants to hog the side of the road or drive down the middle of the road. She doesn’t want to drive on the highway, but she does want the freedom that driving will bring. She complains about the online driving class; there are too many signs, too many rules. She’s eager, and then hesitant. She knows everything but yet doesn’t have a clue.

I’m exhausted.

But determined.

I have a year to get her ready. A year to give her as many driving experiences as possible. Twelve months to teach her the rules and to pad her perspective. Fifty-two weeks to argue or keep silent while in the passenger seat. Three hundred sixty-five days to watch her do it “I-self” before she really does drive away without me next to her coaching her, helping her and guiding her.

I know this is the first step in her real independence. I know it’s part of the process of growing up – the teenage process. But wow, it’s so very hard.

I never thought I would wish for potty training. But if there was a Pull-up for driving instructions, I’d be all over it.

Danielle Scroggins is a Decatur resident, Decatur High school graduate, teacher and mother of three. She writes a monthly column, Life is Kid’s Stuff, for the Messenger.

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