Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Maude VS the new driver

I'm a googler.  I use The Google Oracle to find answers to almost all of my life's problems.  And google, she usually delivers!  But this time, I was kind of at a loss for resources, so I thought once I survive the experience I'd create my own little advice column for the situation in which I found myself today.

I knew that at some point my eldest offspring would be legally ready to drive my car after completing 6 hours of instruction from a licensed professional.  That day was today.

She, of course, was far more nervous about ME being in the car than she was about the actual driving part.  Fair enough, so was I.

Last night, knowing this was coming today, I tried to find articles about how parents can help their young drivers the first time they pilot a giant hunk of metal while sitting completely powerless and with zero control in the passenger seat.

It's unsettling, I'll tell you, to go from being in the driver's seat and solely responsible for your child's health and well being, to suddenly sitting in the passenger seat, clutching a bible, a rosary and a flask. 

OK so I didn't ACTUALLY do those things (however I said many a Hail Mary) but the feeling of HOPELESSNESS that settles in is unlike anything I've experienced since I brought her home from the hospital and hoped I could keep her alive.

Honestly though, I completely underestimated the Xanax worthy anxiety that settled into my chest as soon as she took the keys from my tightly clenched fist. 

Unfortunately as a passenger you have to have your wits about you at all times so any form of medication is not recommended.  Meditation?  yes, hence the constant praying.  God heard from me a lot today....

"Oh my GOD, stay in your lane!"

"For God's sake, watch the speed!"

"Good GOD, did they not show you how to use a turn signal?"

And, my personal favorite:

"Jesus Christ, kid.  EASY on the brakes."

It's good to be a Christian....

All joking aside, she did pretty well for only the fourth day ever of driving in her life.  As much as I coached her about watching the tail lights in front and to HIT THE BREAKS SO YOU DON'T SLAM INTO THOSE CARS UP THERE, she was pretty impressed that I NEVER ONCE grabbed the "oh shit" handle NOR did I slam my foot on the imaginary brake on the floor in front of me. 

I'm not sure how I survived nearly 50 minutes of total terror, but I did give birth to two children and I've gone skydiving and bungee jumping so.....

Really I am not sure who I should be more proud of, her or me?  I'm thinking me.  But it probably should be her?

Back to the original purpose of this story, I tried really hard to find friendly parent advice about driving with your kids for the first time and I came up empty handed. 

So I thought, hell, I'll make a list for the rest of you suckers soon to follow in my footsteps.  You. Are. Welcome.

Without further adieu, here is the list:

1. Stay calm.  Wait, who am I kidding?  PRETEND to be calm.  Inside you can scream like you just stepped on a tarantula, but to your child: APPEAR CALM.  Like icy calm, the calm that you show them when you caught them doing something they shouldn't and you're asking them if they did the thing and waiting patiently for them to admit they did the thing you caught them doing.  That kind of calm.

2.  Always tell them they are doing a good job WHEN they are doing a good job so when you do have to scream (not so calmly) "look out for that f-ing semi!!!!!!!!!" they are ready to hear you.

3. Don't make them back out of a parking spot for the first time with you in the car.  A 2 point turn will become a 10 point turn and you'll be crawling out of your own skin just to get the hell out of the parking lot.  It doesn't feel great.

4. They know everything.  You don't.  So don't be surprised when they are NOT driving that they critique your every decision.  "Mom, you changed lanes too frequently back there.  That's aggressive driving."  And then the inevitable after you snap at them for telling you what a crappy driver you are for the entire ten minute drive to school "You know, you shouldn't drive angry.  Driving emotionally compromised is almost as bad as texting while driving."  You are distracted you know."  That's my favorite.... 

5. Avoid streets with more than one lane in each direction.  Otherwise, you're likely to lose a side mirror, your temper and along with it your sanity.  To a new driver, cars in the lane next to them have an unbelievable and undetectable magnetic pull, so much so that you'll be mouthing an apology to the driver next to you as your car is inching closer to them.  You'll be lucky if they read your lips: I am so sorry, student driver! before you escape sideswiping them altogether.

6. Do NOT under any circumstances allow them to listen to the radio while they are driving your car, even at a low volume.  They WILL forget to leave two hands on the wheel.  The temptation to "dab" when they complete a turn safely or fortnight dance to their favorite song is impossible to resist.  Trust me on this one. 

7. Don't hold your breath.  I mean this literally.  You will find yourself not breathing at frequent intervals.  When you finally escape the car when you get to wherever you are going, you might pass out.  I ended up basically falling into a shrub.  True story.  So breathe.  Long, deep healthy breaths.....

I feel like I'll end with lucky #7.  As this was really just our first drive together I'm assuming I'll have some more nuggets of wisdom to share in the near future.  But if you are like me, and you're looking for a sherpa to guide you through the rocky cliff of a 15 year old driving your car, I hope this is useful information to you. 

Feel free to share it with others and hopefully the next stressed out, nervous parent who is googling "how not to totally freak their brand new driver out the first time on the road" this little article will pop up and provide some peace.

For now, I'm signing off and pouring myself that drink......

Friday, June 14, 2019

Letter to myself at 15

This has been a spring and summer of many firsts in our household.  So many that I've almost completely drained my wine rack.  Almost.

The firsts in our household include my 13 year old son being introduced to PornHub at school (thanks other kid in tech class for stealing his innocence).  Smart phones will be the death of our society.  But, I'm off topic.  Squirrel!

Firsts for the 15 year old include a first job interview (phone and in person) and her first job. 

First actual date with a real live boy where they actually looked at each other eye to eye in person and spoke without cell phones!!!!!  It's a MIRACLE!!!  And a first second date....

First encounter with a more mature type of feminine product (I'll just leave it like that for you) where she was a total rock star and I had to show her how it all worked while she sat on the toilet and I will never ever be able to scrub that memory from my brain. 

But, glad I could help.  I was in college at a state park restroom before I learned how to use them with my sorority sisters trying to coach me on the other side of the cold metal doorway.  And those restrooms, very clean and germ free, too.  >shiver<

This is the first time she has ever referred to another human as "boyfriend" which caused her father and I to immediately come up with manual labor tasks the "boyfriend" will have to help us out with around the house to "earn" more time with her one on one....if he ever can....Dad is making sure his shotgun collection is clean and ready.

She got her learner's permit and finished her online driving course, so another first will be driving in about a week.  God help us.  I'll need to get that wine rack filled up again, along with my Xanax prescription...

After I dropped her off for her first shift at her job today I reflected back to my 15th summer on this earth.  God were things so simple yet I thought they were so complicated.

I, too, had a few firsts. 

First time driving, first time liking a boy and (ermagehrd) him liking me back.  For like, 48 hours, or something.  Then I got dumped over the phone with the classic "I think we're better as friends." 

First time sneaking out of the house with friends to go toilet paper that boy's house.  Needless to say, it turned out to be too far to walk, we got lost, and came home with the TP still in hand...and my brother caught us coming home.  In fairness, he didn't tell on me because the only reason he caught us is because he was smoking a cigarette outside when we rolled we both had something to lose...

But Lord have mercy I remember thinking everything was so hard, so complicated, and so difficult. 

And, it was, because that was my perspective.  So I thought, what would I tell myself at 15, that 31+ years of wisdom could help reshape my view on things?  Not much, as it turns out.  Most 15 year old's (girls, teenagers especially) think they've got it all figured out.  But, I am going to pretend, in case this helps anyone else.  Here goes:

Dear 15 year old self,

I hope you are enjoying your summer break.  You just finished your freshman year of high school, didn't it fly by?  I know it was probably (from your perspective) miserable. 

How many times did you like a boy and he liked your friend instead?  How else did you get the nickname "Ducky"? (thanks a lot Pretty in Pink movie, I'll never live down being everyone's best friend).

Those things are painful, but when you're 46 you can look back on your 15 year old crushes and know, without a shadow of a doubt, you would never have married any one of them.  Even sweet, tortured skater boy Glenn.  I remember walking home with him almost every day listening to him go on and on and on and on about your friend that he liked.   It all seemed too heavy, at 15.  And, it's OK to cry in your pillow, baby.  Sometimes that's all you need.

But please just enjoy it, all the sweetness and uncertainty, and know that maybe, just maybe, Glenn liked you but never thought he had a chance.  And your best friend that he liked?  She was a terrible wing man for you.

High school is hard for about 8000 other reasons, too.  Like the girls, oh the girls were harder to deal with than boys.  End of story.  Talk about hormone induced insanity at every turn.  You fell victim to it, too.  Remember that.

Know this, though....years will go by and you'll look back and understand that every single one of you girls struggled with the same things: wanting to fit in, feeling accepted, trying to feel beautiful and figuring out who you really are. 

But trust me, being kind and nice to everyone will make sure you fit in, be accepted, be a beautiful person and is totally true to who you are.  Because, at the core of your being you are a nice, wonderful and caring person.

Don't worry if you don't get invited to the parties, I promise the memories you have cruising Riverside with Becky and going to  Mormon stake dances with your band friends and dancing yourselves silly, then watching movies at someone's house afterward will be some of the BEST things you will recall about being in high school. 

Remember you honed your self-deprecating humor by utilizing it as a survival mechanism every time some dumb boy called you "Ride-me-now" or a "Pirate's Dream" (sunken chest anyone??) or "Amy Bird" (Larry Bird's daughter) or Stretch or any one of 1000 names people called you because, at the end of the day, they would never be all that you were at 15: confident, tall, kind and funny.

Don't focus on what you wish you had or how you wish you looked.  You are perfect in every way, just the way you are.  Tall, thin, gangly, freckle-faced and goofy looking.  That's you in a nutshell, so own it.  Even today.  Especially, the part about being goofy.  It's one of your finest qualities.

Someday you'll have the last laugh on the sunken chest jokes because you'll end up with a nice new D Cup rack to show off well into your 60's.  Granted it took surviving cancer to get them, but worth it in the end.  You'll be looking forward to showing them off at the 30 year reunion...

Also, ask for help when you need it.  Friends and caring adults will move heaven and earth to support you.  It's a fact.  Lean on people who love you when things get hard.

Smile as much as you can. 

Make jokes, but not at someone's expense.

Volunteer to help somewhere.  Nothing will fill your cup like doing something for someone other than yourself.

Join clubs, play sports, or do drama or band or color guard or whatever makes your heart sing.

Find your people.  Form your tribe.  Love them hard and make all the memories you can.  Time will go by fast.

You will never regret making good choices, being a good person and standing up for what you believe in.  

Surround yourself with good people.  Even if your circle is small but mighty: quality over quantity.

Be kind to everyone. 

And remember, there is no one who will love you truly, madly and deeply and always have your back no matter what, quite like your mother. 

Sass her from time to time just to keep her in her place, but don't be afraid to open up sometimes. 

She will listen like no other and will fiercely protect you and at the same time hold you accountable for things when you need to be.  I know you know this.

For what it's worth, high school is hard.  I can't sugar coat it for you, but it's also one of the simplest times in your life.  So take deep breaths, take steps back, reflect, try to enjoy the best moments and learn what you can from the worst.

Someday you'll have a sweet, wonderful 15 year old girl who is going through all the same things, and all the same firsts, that you did.  And, like you, she will have a mother who loves her hard and would do anything for her.

So just slow down and soak it all up.  Enjoy every minute of this beautiful, awkward, crazy, scary and wonderful life that you are living.  That part of life will never, ever change.