There, I said it. I’ve been thinking about it for the better part of a year. I’ve been thinking about it since she turned fourteen last January.
Fourteen. That is all. She’s only been on the planet for fourteen years. My favorite t-shirt is more than fourteen years old.
Still, the state of Iowa says, “sure, you can start driving at fourteen!” And all of her friends are driving. And I drove at fourteen.
But I’m not ready for my daughter to start driving.
Everywhere I look I see teen drivers. Teens who, in my mind, should still be little kids – little like they were just a few years ago. Instead they are operating motor vehicles. And their parents are thrilled. Thrilled that they are finally able to cart themselves to and from school, telling me how their lives changed for the better once their child started driving.
I want to get on board. But I can’t.
So I’ve been ignoring the school’s email reminders about driver’s education classes. I’ve refused to take my daughter to the Department of Transportation to obtain an instruction permit. And I cringe just a little bit when my friends tell me they have bought a third car for their teen to drive.
I’m not completely sure why I’ve been in denial about this coming of age event. Maybe it’s because my daughter hasn’t seemed all that interested in driving. Maybe it’s because I don’t want her to be getting older. Maybe I’m worried that she’ll get hurt. Maybe I just don’t have the time to devote to teaching her to drive. Maybe I’m just having trouble letting go.
But soon she’ll be fifteen. Then sixteen. And so on. She’ll keep getting older and if I don’t let her drive she’s going to live with me forever.
So I have to let her grow up. I have to let her drive. And graduate, and move out, and move on.
She’s a good kid. A great kid. I trust her and she’s very smart. She’s very safe. She can do hard things. She can drive. But can I get out of her way?
Can I let her take this step? A step that will put her on the path toward independence, away from me but onward toward her own goals and aspirations.
Maybe I can, but maybe I’ll wait just a little bit longer. Savoring the last few months I have with my not-so-little-anymore daughter sitting beside me in the passenger seat.