SALT LAKE CITY — In just a few days, my oldest son will be participating in a milestone for teens turning 16 years old: He will be taking the driving portion of his driver's education course to receive his driver's license.
As his parents, we have been nervously diligent about teaching him how to operate an automobile. Notice how doing so has aged me to a 75-year-old man who uses words that may or may not still be part of our English language. #automobile
After endless months of being the passenger to a new teenage driver, there is one thing I am certain of: I know exactly where I want the passenger brake pedal installed because I now have a firm imprint worn there from constant foot pressure. Come to think of it, I actually want to install a brake lever on the "oh crap bar" in case my foot pedal fails me.
As odd as it may sound, it actually boggles my mind that the laws of physics haven't found a way for the weight of my adult body to move a car to the center of the lane when I've obviously shifted all my weight in that direction. Oh, and don't get me started on the frustration I feel like a 37-year-old woman who has not yet developed her telepathic powers. It would be so nice to send out word vibes to anyone within a mile radius that there is a student driver nearby, asking each to please be on their best behavior on the road.
All serious jokes aside, I feel like my husband and I have prepared our son for this privilege-of-passage. Because I know, my husband knows, and our son most definitely knows that driving is not a right, but a privilege.
Driving is all fun and games — like, never — and people can and do get hurt. Safety should be of utmost concern always.
Speaking of safety, imagine my total excitement when after months of uncertainty, I opened an email saying that not only would my son be able to complete his driver's ed course, but safety precautions would be extended beyond the seat belts and passenger-side brake. My son and the other passengers in the car would be required to wear face masks to hinder the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus.
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He made it a whole 30 seconds before wanting to rip the mask off his face. Even grandma's carefully crafted mask isn't going to make this bearable. T-minus 28 hours until his driving test. I am once again asking for collective prayers that the driver's ed face mask rule is lifted by tomorrow. - But pray a little lighter this time. My "few weeks" off of church turned into 3 months and counting. Thanks, friends 👍🤦
If that last sentence made you do a double take, you're not alone. I had to read the email several times to make sure I read it right, and it even took the voice of the instructor himself to let it all sink in.
How did I not foresee that I would need to teach my son how to operate a motor vehicle while adding the obstacle of a piece of fabric on his face? Why didn't I think to give my own driving instructions through the crisp and clear sound of a muffled mask?
Maybe because it sounds absolutely ludicrous.
Once again, setting my serious joking aside, curveballs are the name of the game these days and adapting to unexpected changes builds resilience.
Regardless of curveballs, and because I badly need another driver, I will be sending my son to complete his driver's education course with confidence that he has done all he can to be prepared. And that preparation will include that required mouth covering that I can't promise won't be riddled with Bedazzled beads for good measure.