Since I began writing this blog, I’ve wrestled with writing a post about my daughter, Lily. If you’ve ever met my Lily…my beautiful, fierce, and slightly ferocious Lily…you could empathize with how terrified I am. Off the top of my head, I can think of 243 ways this can go very badly. Very, very badly.
My daughter is beautiful. My daughter is introspective. She is loyal, kind, fiercely fair, and respectful to others (as long as they didn’t give birth to her). She always sticks up for the underdog. She gives generously of herself, especially to those in need. She’s an insanely gifted singer. She’s an honor student. She is a magnificent human being that I feel fortunate to call my child.
She is also learning how to drive.
I’ve already taught one child how to drive. It was easy. In fairness, my son was always fascinated with cars and started driving on people’s laps at age four. He could maneuver a golf cart at age 7 like a 65 year-old Boca Raton retiree. He was a natural. Being the conscientious mother that I am, I made sure he supplemented his driving education with hefty doses of Grand Theft Auto. He breezed through his exam.
After a smooth, pleasant experience with my son, I went into Round Two with my youngest child with way too much confidence. I was grossly misled by the adept skill she exhibited at such an early age while she maneuvered through the mean streets of Grand Theft Auto. I didn’t heed the omen I was given during the time my husband tried teaching 13-year-old Lily the fundamentals of driving a car. That lesson ended abruptly by Lily exiting the driver’s side while the car was still in “drive“ (I did learn, however, that my husband possesses the very sexy, stunt man-worthy quality of being able to jump over and slide into a driverless, moving car). Until very recently, I also didn’t fully wrap my brain around the concept that she was born cursed with my horrible sense of direction. She has been driving for over nine months and still gets lost shortly before exiting our driveway.
Furthermore, I didn’t factor in the idea that Lily and I have fundamentally different ideas of what skills one must possess to drive safely. For example, I feel that a stop sign is not merely a suggestion. I regard it as the younger, less-emphatic sister of the mighty red light rather than a barely acknowledged distant cousin. We agree to disagree.
We do agree on most of the pre-drive protocol involving the checking of the mirrors and seat positions. However, we lock horns on Lily’s requirement that calls for both the volume and the bass of the car’s sound system to be set to a level which makes the windows rattle. Another point we argue about is the fact that I firmly do not feel that mastering the perfect “selfie” behind the wheel is a usable skill on the road. Again, we agree to disagree but I’ll admit that she’s far more photogenic than I, so my opinions regarding this skill may be skewed.
It seems as if each and every teachable driving moment ends in conflict. I have a very close relationship my mini-me and I dread the fallout that inevitably follows each driving lesson. I’ve actually pondered the thought that I’d be a much better passenger if I was tranquilized. Regretfully, the amount of Xanax I’d need to be calm enough makes me prone to drooling and more importantly, would render me useless as a driving teacher (which pretty much defeats the whole purpose).
Last weekend, nine months into the Driving-Miss-Lily experience, my husband and I reached our breaking point with our beautiful, headstrong daughter. We were passengers while she drove us to an appointment via US-1. For those of you not familiar with this road, it is a main north-south highway running along the Eastern coast of the US. My little slice of US-1 is basically a four lane free-for-all consisting of too many shoppers eagerly speeding to get to our world-famous Aventura Mall, international tourists who are vacationing here for the winter (who deem most of our road rules optional), along with a plethora of senior citizens who should have had their driving privileges revoked during the Reagan administration. It is a congested, dangerous road that we had no business being on with a 15-year-old, new driver.
It was on this treacherous patch of asphalt that my husband and I simultaneously realized that my daughter had most definitely NOT mastered the art of the lane change. Technically, she had mastered changing lanes – she just chose to change ALL four of them in one swift diagonal move without the aid of indicators. We (loudly) voiced our displeasure with her technique, as did many motorists within the four lanes that were swerving to avoid her. After a harrowing minute of real-life Frogger, I actually climbed out of the car before it came to a complete stop.
There was yelling. There were tears. There was a scathing diatribe in which I berated her driving. Any mom listening would know my rant roughly translated into “please God, don’t let my baby get hurt.” In my head, I was sure that Lily understood that what I was screaming was “I love you so much and I’m so scared that I cannot keep you safe.” What really came out of my mouth was a string of four-letter words strategically transformed into verbs, adverbs, adjectives and dangling participles vulgar enough to make a sailor blush. If teen daughters could interpret Mom language, I believe this world would be a far calmer place. And wine sales would drop significantly.
It was at that moment that my husband and I realized that some things are best left to the professionals. So as I sit here writing this, my daughter is taking her first driving class with a man driving one of those conjoined-twin cars fitted with two sets of everything and a big sign announcing to all those on the road: “STUDENT DRIVER.” She is furious with me… and that’s ok. I should probably be a little worried because she’s going to be the person who decides what nursing home I’m going to go to when I’m old. Based on her current level of anger, I’ll be lucky if I’m living in an old refrigerator box under a bridge. That’s okay. She can be as mad as she wants. I’m confident that by the time she needs to visit me in my box, she’ll not only be fluent in Mom language, she’ll finally be able to change lanes like a pro. That’s all that matters.