Teen Drivers (Part 2)

Our family of seven has just welcomed our fourth driver. Wife and I are hoping to delegate some of the errands to the children very soon should there be a time someone or something need to be picked up. This child has just received her learner’s permit. We patiently wait until she can get her license and drive on her own. In the meantime, we continue with our diligent parenting and errand-running, waiting for that moment when Wife and I can just sit back and let one of the cherubs handle it. Until then we sit… and wait… and hope.

Another one of The Gaggle is the latest one with the learner’s permit. She and I went out to the driveway she she could get a feel for what it’s like to be behind the wheel. She made it abundantly clear she had no intention of actually driving the car. She just wanted to get in the car and see what it was like.

I gave her the keys and we got in the car. She started the engine. She was ready. She didn’t think so but I informed her she was. I told her she had prepared for this day. She took a test and passed it. I reminded her she really had prepared herself.

She put her foot on the brake and put the car in drive. She never took her foot off the brake. She just put the car back in park. She released the brake and the car rolled an inch, maybe two inches. She let out an excited cry. She wasn’t expecting the car to move at all. I patted her on the shoulder and told her how proud I was. It was a small step, especially for someone who was more than a little apprehensive about driving. We went back inside and told Wife about the big first step taken. Later that afternoon, we drove to a parking lot. The Gaggle refused to drive there, even if it was just a question of making three or four turns without really leaving the neighborhood. She didn’t care. She didn’t want to and I wasn’t going to kill what smoldering confidence there was from our driveway venture.

I drove us to the parking lot. I killed the ignition and switched seats with her. I wanted her to to it all, including starting the car, as simple as that may seem. She got in and adjusted her seat. She adjusted her mirrors. She started the ignition and made a face like she was operating a loaded tank. Driving and firing. She wasn’t ecstatic about this. I was excited for her and didn’t understand why she wasn’t feeling the joy. I think I may have been excited enough for the two of us.

A car dashboard with the speedometer reading 9 mph.
This is about as fast as
she was willing to go.

She took her foot off the brake and we rolled forward. She wasn’t interested in picking up any speed. We did 5 mph. I’m not exaggerating this. She did a couple of laps around the parking lot and practiced parking a few times. She did well. Towards the end of the session, I asked her if she was feeling dangerous. If so, she could bump it up to 10 mph. She did. It was exhilarating. I don’t think she had ever been in something so fast before in her life. The driving came to an end. I asked her if she wanted to drive home. She emphatically refused. I drove us home. She spent the night recovering from the adrenaline rush. I’m looking forward to our next driving lesson.

2020 Hindsight

There’s been a lot of talk about 2020 and how glad people will be to see it leave. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but Coronapalooza isn’t going to disappear when midnight strikes and the ball drops to ring in 2021.

But that’s not why I’m here with you this week. I’m hear to tell you that 2020 hasn’t been all that bad. Not for me, anyway, and I want to share with you the memories of the year that was all about toilet paper, homeschooling, and wi-fi bands that were tested time and time again.

The year 2020 was a year that saw us as a family of five. One left us and two more came. One more came after that and we are now a happy family of seven. We made a jump from dealing with elementary school problems to dealing with teenagers, high school, Driver’s Ed and the multitude of happy experiences and memories that spawned from everything teenager.

Wife finally got one of her wishes. She got to spend more time at home. Granted, she was working from home so it wasn’t exactly ideal, but she didn’t have to fight traffic or deal with coming home after children had gone to bed. I even got to have lunch with her sometimes.

Youth sports got me out of the house with The Boy. We got to spend some time on the baseball diamond where I saw other ways to use a facemask besides protecting your face. Chew toys, sling shots. It’s amazing what kids can do if they’re bored enough. I also spent my time dodging errant throws and thrown bats as well as directing traffic on the base paths and making sure there was one person not chasing a batted ball so the up-and-comers would have someone to throw to as soon as they were done jumping on each other while trying to get said batted ball. Speaking of happy days on the diamond, I would like to take this time to thank a certain neighbor for taking over a couple of times so I could go on vacation with my family.

Vacation. Ah, yes. Vacation. Those glorious weeks spent with my wife, children and my wife’s cousins… and four additional children that belonged to one of those cousins. It was a good time. Swimming and campfires and no wi-fi. I think The Oppressed is still traumatized by the wi-fi-less week. Those therapy sessions are going to be epic.

We spent some time swimming at a nearby beach. We took walks. We dealt with the outdoors and the elements as best we could. It wasn’t Disneyland (our first choice for vacation before the Coronavirus fiasco) but we were able to spent some time together.

Summer vacation ends and we are back to homeschooling and The Homework Wars. We have a small break between homework and dinner where The Boy and I go to flag-football practice. I was an assistant coach. I get another chance to do something with him. The Oppressed has sworn off sports for the rest of her life. I need to find something else to do with her.

Driving lessons. Just one
example of our “fun” this year.

The sports seasons end and the weather gets colder. I move from coaching youth sports to helping one of The Gaggle as they start their driving lessons. There have been plenty of white-knuckle incidents and missed turns and slamming on the brakes when someone realizes halfway through an intersection that there was a stop sign. Good times. We will soon have another child starting Driver’s Ed. My liquor cabinet won’t be empty for a while. The colder weather brings a change to the seasons. We celebrated Thanksgiving. I won’t say how many were there because I’m still not sure what the limits are for gatherings at the time. Whatever they are, I’m sure we were WELL within them.

We gave candy at Halloween. We helped shovel out neighbors. I started to tell my stories to the world about parenting and all of the joys that came along with it. I also took another job writing. A friend of mine took me on to write some feel-good stories about the good people at Northeastern University and their accomplishments. I immediately said yes because I don’t have anything else going on right now. Sounds like fun. It has been.

There was no such fun when I pulled a deck of “Uno” cards out of my Christmas stocking and looked at The Oppressed on Christmas Morning. Playing cards is right under Batting Practice on the list of Cruel and Unusual Punishments she is seeking to have permanently banned. I’m hoping she will change her mind. In the meantime, there will be more stories to tell about me, Wife and our five kids who fill our home with love, memories, and ulcer-inducing stories.

So, what exactly will 2021 bring to us? I have no idea. I’m stuck with you here in 2020. I know there will be three in high school and one wrapping up elementary school and getting ready for middle school. A child in middle school. What could possibly go wrong?

I do have hopes for the new year. One hope is that we can finally get back out to doing normal things. Go out to eat. Take a vacation. Send my children, all five of them, to school full-time. Whatever 2021 brings us, I will be sure to let you know about it. Thank you for being with me this year as I share the ups, downs, and adventures in Parenting. The year 2021 should be an interesting year and, if anything goes wrong, there’s always 2022. Right?

Happy New Year!

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