Admittedly, this is a bit of a rough estimate and I took the liberty of rounding the number off, but I am trying to figure out how many times I have driven my 5 kids places over the past 30 years, since my oldest child was born.
From the day after we brought Emilie home, when I strapped her into her car seat for her first Baby Well-Check, until I ran Tommy to soccer practice a few nights ago, I arrived at roughly 87,600 car rides – give or take the 7 or 8 times their dad actually shuttled them anywhere.
Which might explain the rather unorthodox reaction I am having to Tommy getting his driver’s license.
I am letting him drive.
Yesterday, when two of my daughters happened to be home, chatting in the kitchen, one of them looked up and asked,
When I answered, “He’s at soccer practice!” they kindly offered to pick him up later, on their way back home from running an errand. This left me no option but to ‘fess up-
“He drove himself there!”
“He drove?” They exclaimed, in unison and surprise. Apparently, according to the girls, getting one’s license around here was certainly a laudable milestone, but it didn’t translate into the level of personal freedom and autonomy their younger brothers enjoy.
Okay, I admit I might’ve put some rather stringent restrictions on my daughters when they were new drivers, freshly sprung from the loins of the DMV, with their little plastic cards in their little plastic hands, but things were different then.
We had more rules and standards. In fact, we may have had so many standards there appears to be a double-standard.
–No listening to the radio while driving….No Backstreet Boys, No N’Sync, No Brittany Spears or Destiny’s Child. The boys, however, managed to convince us that they would drive better with the steady thrum of a savage rap beat.
–No interstate driving. I mapped out elaborately circuitous routes for the girls in order to keep them off the interstate. This, apparently, took them through some sketchy parts of town. At one point, Mollie complained that she thinks a stray bullet grazed her car. So, we allowed the boys to take more direct routes via the highways and byways of this great land.
–No leopard print plushy steering wheel cover or pink rabbit’s foot rearview-mirror decor. Sorry, I know teenaged girls love to prettify their rides, but this is all just too distracting. I needed their hands on the actual steering wheel at 10 and 2, with nothing dangling and obstructing their view. Fortunately, the boys never wanted to trick out their vehicles with crap from Claire’s or Limited Too. Fast-food bags clutter the floorboards posing no safety threat.
The older kids can criticize me all they want. They can call it a double-standard if they must, but I prefer to think of it as ‘evolving as a parent.’
Don’t get me wrong, I still worry up a blue streak. It’s not as though utter lawlessness abounds; we still have a few rules. Tommy is required to text me when he arrives at his destination and when he leaves to return home, etc. We haven’t gone so far as to embed a chip in him, but we do track his movements…
That’s how I came to notice, that as the 5th child of burned-out parents, he’s kind’ve like your Visa Card – he’s everywhere he wants to be.
(metaphorically, Mom points her camera down at the ground in despair…)