Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hell on Wheels

Anyone with a teenage child will recognize the horror in this photo.

My daughter Chloe turned sixteen on Valentine’s Day. Two days later, she called to tell me she got her driver’s license on her first try. Two days after that, she called to brag about her new car.

My son Dylan and I both failed on our first attempts.

It didn’t really sink in until Dylan called to tell me he and his sister were going to the grocery store. I said, “Remind Chloe, her soda contains a flame retardant and try to find some healthy vegetables.” “No, you don’t understand,” he said, “just Chloe and I are going!”

A sense of dread almost left me breathless. Chloe was driving. I imagined her texting while driving through a red light into a group of pre-school pedestrians.

The time span of her first driving experience is pretty similar to what mine had been. The difference is, I had already been working for two years and had to buy my own car.

“Wild Life” was a black Pontiac station wagon with a red interior.

On one of my hitch hiking journeys to the east, I left her with my brother. “Don’t forget to top off the oil every couple of days,” I instructed. When I got back to town, Wild Life had thrown a rod. ------- I still grieve.

The big difference these days is the mandatory liability insurance. I could never have come up with that when I was a teenager. Even with a job.

My ex and I were supposed to have a deal with our kids that they’d be working to pay their own insurance. I couldn’t afford it anyway.

Chloe somehow convinced her mom that she would have a job in a few days if her mother could just front a couple of the payments.

My son is so opposed to getting a job; he’s resolved not to drive at all. After all, a lot of my friends don’t drive. My friend Fojammi has successfully made it through his entire life without a license. My son likes to think of himself as a tough urban kid and urban kids take the subway, don’t they? They don’t run very often around here though!

A lot of my friends didn’t drive for years, but it’s impossible to live in the Midwest without a car.

Dylan’s about to turn eighteen, and I think that might put him in a cheaper insurance demographic. He does have his permit, and let me tell you, it’s been a life saver when we come home from one of our Soulard parties, probably literally.

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