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Laura on Life

Driving Me Bonkers
By Laura Snyder
May 30, 2012 - 5:52:00 AM

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Love comes in many forms. The love for your spouse is much different than the love for your child, which is different from the love for a pet, which is different from the love of a friend.

However, if you put all of them in a burning building and could only save one, most parents would choose their child, hands down. This is the most powerful kind of love.

This kind of love is most evident the day your teenager gets a learner's permit. As the parent, it is now your responsibility to allow your kid, the one who insists on repeating internet memes and splitting infinitives, to sit behind the wheel of a moving 3-ton vehicle while you sit in the passenger seat willingly channeling your inner crash dummy.

We do this out of love for our children.

The question is: Why on earth do some people become driver education teachers? They deserve a medal. They do this for other people's children! They must be missing some vital nerve to be able to do that! They are superhuman, maybe even part robot! Or perhaps they simply want to die, but they like surprises.

Fortunately for them, there is one advantage that driver education teachers have that parents do not. That is the all-important brake pedal on the passenger's side of their car. I keep slamming my foot down as if there was one in my car, but so far, it has been ineffective.

I could use an extra steering wheel as well. My son has a terrifying habit of drifting from one side of the road to the other. When I tell him to stay straight, he says, "Define 'straight'."

His driver education teacher stressed adjusting the mirrors before the student starts the car. This is difficult to do when the mirrors on the car are operated electronically. This presented a frustrating Catch 22 for my son, who couldn't be persuaded to start the car first. So... do I have to buy another car? Should we hack the electronics on the car? Or should we simply sit in the driveway until the car decides to cooperate?

As the parent of a new driver, you are not only required to put your very life into the hands of your squirrelly, know-it-all teenager, you are also required to be calm and rational at all times while he is attempting to kill you both.

Someone has to be calm and rational, though. If he is gripping the steering wheel and yelling "AAAHHHH!!!!" every time a semi approaches from the other direction, your scream of terror will not only be redundant, but it will not be helpful... at all. Plus, it won't stop the car from hitting the semi, which is even more terrifying.

One of the rules for a learner's permit states that a licensed adult driver has to be in the passenger's seat. But it doesn't say that person has to be conscious. So... that's an option, I guess.

After much thought, I decided that a better option to stay calm, rational, and conscious would be to simply pretend the car was impervious to accidents and that it could practically drive itself. Is that rational? I don't know for sure, but it's best not to examine that question while my son still needs a co-pilot.

Teaching a teenager how to drive is a lot like the burning building scenario. You are indeed risking your own life to improve his chances of survival. Good thing my car is impervious to accidents.

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at Or visit her website for more info.

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