Baby, you can drive my car

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Proving once again you can’t trust the government, our fair state has decided my son is old enough to drive. This, of course, is crazy talk. Obviously they just don’t understand just last week we were driving home with him (brand new) in his infant car seat (also new) at a blistering 25 mph because we were scared his wobbly little head would fall off.

Just yesterday it seems he was “vroom vrooming” and “beep beeping” around the yard in a battery operated, toddler-sized truck. The first time he drove that he floored it, in reverse, backed up and over a flower bed and headed straight for our shrubs. Mr. Wonderful dove onto the steering wheel in time to avert disaster — or at the very least a stiff poke in the eye. I can tell you, of all the check marks in a child’s baby book, the ability to drive is the one that scares me to bits.

Firsts

Much poetic license is given to waxing rhapsodic about baby’s first steps being their first pulling away from parents. Let’s be frank here. A brief jaunt across the living room is exciting. That first trek across the street is a landmark. The first adventure pulling out of the driveway with your baby behind the wheel is monumental. See also: giant cosmic joke.

How can the person once charged with blanketing your back seat with sippy cups and snack foods suddenly have been promoted to front seat driving privileges? Suddenly your child’s ability to make excellent split-decisions is risking more than home base — or your best vase — it is risking life and limb. Can’t we all just take the bus? Forever? I am probably not the best person, in terms of role modeling — to send into a government office full of bossy signs.

While our son had his first run in with The Man (who was actually a very nice woman) to receive his temporary driving permit, I sat in the waiting room using my electronic device to snap photos of the paper signs taped to the wall that expressly forbid the use of electronic devices (this means you lady!) I told you I’m a terrible role model

Nonetheless, they had no trouble handing my baby a temporary driver’s permit. There, in officially laminated plastic, was proof positive the state has decreed him a passably decent driver with, at the very least, a “book smart” understanding of road rules and an ability to remain calm when a parent or licensed adult driver sitting next to him attempts to wrestle the wheel away. Don’t think for one moment Mr. Wonderful is not poised to dive yet again if necessary.

Fast track

How is it that just yesterday we were trying to figure out how to fit the bassinet into a hatchback following the baby shower and now I’m already wondering how most of the furnishings in his room will eventually fit in the back of a truck when he grows up and moves out? Who hit fast forward on my life? At this point in time Boy Wonder has a temporary license. He can drive only with his parents and does so cautiously and with great care. I would be perfectly fine with this arrangement going on for years.

Growth

It has been fun watching our children grow. We say we want them to “stay little” but the truth is a never-ending cycle of teething biscuits and baby steps would eventually grow old. We need these milestones to tell us we are moving forward. It’s moving forward at 55 mph that gives me pause.

At some point our children’s growth is measured not so much in milestones as mile markers. There are stops along life’s highway telling us where we are in the journey and when we might face a fork in the road. Driver’s education is a big one. If you find yourself driving very, very slowly behind a student driver please take a deep breath, and a moment to ponder, and be kind. The student driver might be quite capable of driving just a little bit faster but the parent in the front passenger seat is saying “please just SLOW DOWN.”

This is true, both of that particular stretch of road, and our child’s journey. Be patient with us. We are still savoring the view.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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