Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Passenger - A Test in Motherly Love

So, on Wednesday, April 30th, Jillian got her Learner's Permit. Because she is over 17 1/2 years old, the lady helping us at the DMV happily announced that Jillian wouldn't need to bother with the "Behind The Wheel" formal training. (she wasn't joking!)

This explains A LOT!! I'm driving on the California Highway to and from work having to concentrate on just surviving the other driver's around me. The roadways in California have to rank as one of the worst because of the numbers of unskilled drivers we have. Now I know why.

Jillian's dad paid for the formal instruction so we are making good use of it.

The flip side is she needs PRACTICE with a licensed driver (over the age of 25) with her.....I suppose that the idea behind this is that the licensed driver can instruct the new driver and help prevent him/her from getting into an accident. (My preferred method of risk mitigation is to just simply take the keys away from them!). I was hoping to pass this task over to Grant, who was a police officer with the traffic division in Australia. So Jillian ends up driving on the wrong side of the road....big least she will learn to signal and stay in her lane which is more than most of the drivers around here. Grant has thus far passed on riding in the suicide seat..... I mean ride as the licensed driver.

That leaves me. Mom. Mom who is high strung at the idea of my kids crossing the busy street at the ages of 17 and 14. I get to ride with Jillian while she practices. After calling the DMV and the Highway Patrol and their telling me that "No, you may not have medicinal alcohol to calm the nerves before the practice sessions nor be under the influence of mind altering medication either." I braced myself ...that's just GREAT...I have to do this stone sober and as I enter into my heart attack years. I couldn't be more or less ready.

So we go........

The first time Jillian sat in the driver's seat of my Chrysler Sebring Convertible, she looks at me beaming, I tell her to put her foot on the brake before she turns the key, she sweetly asks me this question......keep in mind, the look on her face gave no indication whatsoever that there was anything wrong with this question........"Mom, which pedal is the brake?"

Me: "HOLY MOTHER OF GAWD" (speed dialing the El Cajon police to see about a waiver on the whole drug/alcohol/impaired issue....FOR ME)

We discuss the pedals and the fact that if she hears me screaming, I'm expecting her to step on the big wide pedal to the left of the long skinny pedal. Jillian feeling ever confident turns the keys and we are off.

Jillian driving me home.

With the exception of her starts and stops and turning, she is actually doing better than I thought. We drove around the neighborhood (I don't like these people anyways) and then practiced in the parking lot of Holy Trinity Church. (I just needed to be closer to God at that moment). Jillian got the starts and stops down smoother. I won't even go into describing her attempts at parking. Other than to say we have a one car driveway and at the end of our session she pulled into the driveway and parked the car...ONLY ONE TIRE was actually ON the driveway. The sweetest part was she got out of the car and looked proudly at the car and didn't seem to wonder about the parking job.

I suddenly realized why the Pope kisses the ground after a flight. I think the poor man is flying with a student pilot!! I didn't actually kiss the ground but I did pause outside of the car and was thankful to be home.

Yesterday was a huge day for us!! Jillian had a hair appointment getting ready for her Senior Prom which was last night. I clearly was not in a lucid state at the time and apparently agreed to let Jillian drive us to her hair appointment. ON THE FREEWAY...MERGING into and out of traffic and everything. We arrived safely, but I was completely dripping in Flop Sweat. (Flop sweat is what I call it, when you see a performer on stage that has completely screwed up their performance and the look of horror on their face and the sweat is oozing out of every pore of their skin. THAT is a great description of me after riding with Jillian on the freeway!!!)

We have had some very sweet tender Mother/Daughter moments during these driving sessions. Like the time that Jillian sweetly said she feels like we are having great bonding time. I thought that I was seriously bonding to the seat of the car, but I like Jillian feeling closer to me. She also complimented me with "WOW Mom, you are doing great! You haven't yelled at me once this trip". She didn't realize it was because I wasn't breathing.

I remember when I was learning to drive, my mother would gasp for air and grab the door handle...flinching and gasping the entire time I was driving those first years. She would announce that there was a red light up ahead only for me to tell her that it was 4 blocks ahead! Tell me to slow down and to watch for pedestrians. (come to think about it, I'm the one gasping and grabbing the door handle when I ride with my mother now!)

I called my mother to tell her how I'm having to ride with Jillian. The woman laughed at me. As if this is some universal payback or something.

As bad as it is for me to see Jillian starting to drive, drifting further and further into independence and becoming her own is absolutely shattering to me to discover that I'm turning into MY MOTHER.

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