One thing I’ve done an excellent job passing down to my kids is my gift of procrastination. I mean really… why do today what you could do tomorrow? It’s like a fine wine, putting off a task … fermenting with age. But, unlike a fine wine, the fermentation process doesn’t add benefit. Nahhh… it just makes things more frustrating – and stinky.
“Since you’ve done such a wonderful job putting of Driver’s Ed, you will be doing it this summer,” I inform my fifteen-year-old for the umpteenth time, “… along with a job.”
“What do you mean, what? It’s not like this is a new conversation.”
“I am not taking Driver’s Ed,” he puts me off. “I don’t have time… especially if I have to do that job thing again.”
I try, with no success, to hide my eye-roll of disgust. “Well… you will be doing ‘that job thing’ and taking Driver’s Ed.”
“I don’t see why I have to waste my time learning how to drive. I have absolutely no need to drive. At least not until I’m eighteen.”
“Yeah. I mean your my mom. You have to take me everyone until I’m 18.”
“What?!” I exclaim again in absolute disbelief. And where did he come up with the “18” thing?!
“Well, that’s your job.” he indignantly replies.
Oh my word. Is he serious??!!
“Are you serious?!” I ask. “Where does it say that I have to drive you around until your 18?!!” The frustration crescendos for both of us. It’s at moments like these that most wise mothers will take a breath and table the train-wreck of a conversation. Not me. I barrel right on down the road. “Well – Let me tell you what… You WILL be taking Driver’s Ed… and you WILL be practicing all summer… and you WILL get your license on your 16th birthday!”
“That is SO not fair!!!”
“I’ll tell you what’s fair. If you don’t get your license, you will be getting to know the rapid transit system very well. There’s a bus stop at either end of our street. If you want to go to a movie with your friends, I’m sure there’s a stop at the movie theater, too … and golf course, and… well wherever you go.”
“What?!! Are you serious?”
I’m sort of wishing I hadn’t lobbed that out there… but oh, well. Why not? Dallas isn’t much of a mass transit city. At least he will be able to sit down rather than stand on the bus.
I’m not sure what’s behind the kid’s aversion to driving. Hopefully in a more civil conversation we can get to that. But his lackadaisical attitude toward getting a license is apparently a Gen Y trend. “Kids these days. They don’t get married. They don’t buy homes. And, much to the dismay of the world’s auto makers, they apparently don’t feel a deep and abiding urge to own a car,” according to The Atlantic. “Unfortunately for car companies, today’s teens and twenty-somethings don’t seem all that interested in buying a set of wheels. They’re not even particularly keen on driving.”
The New York Times recently reported, “In 2008, 46.3 percent of potential drivers 19 years old and younger had drivers’ licenses, compared with 64.4 percent in 1998, according to the Federal Highway Administration, and drivers ages 21 to 30 drove 12 percent fewer miles in 2009 than they did in 1995.”
Well… I guess we are right smack dab in the trend. Experts search for reasoning, a tough economy, kids living in urban areas, yadda, yadda, yadda.
I think in our house, the delayed license preference just might be founded in a preference to be driven… that sneaky youth entitlement trend.
Thanks for walking the equipping road with me. Maybe we can turn the tide and trend back to confidence-infusing personal responsibility – like driving.
“You will be getting a license for lots of reasons … not just for you. You’re a part of this family and driving will be one of the ways you pitch in. This is a non-negotiable, so prepare yourself.” I end the conversation in a talk-to-the-hand position. He schluffs of until another day when I’m sure he will protest yet again. Oh, well…
Here’s to the Mean Mom. If only it was accompanied by a fine wine, rather than teen whine.