Last week, during an evening of bonding with my teen through the ritual of driving practice, she had an ingenious idea!!! More on that soon…
In our state, a prospective driver must be in possession of a learner’s permit, and must also have logged 60 hours of driving before attaining a driver’s license. This driving must be under the supervision of an adult 18 years or older, who also has a driver’s license. This means parents. Unless you have some benevolent grandparents, other relatives, or a friend that is bound to you by blood covenant. Why else would you get in the car with an inexperienced motorist that is more concerned with finding the right song on the radio than STAYING INSIDE THE WHITE LINE ???!!!
As parents, from the very moment we see their slime covered red faces, we take for granted that we are willing to risk our lives for our wee cherubs. But as a friend or even a blood relation outside of immediate parental units, a passenger/instructor to a student driver is just willingly subjecting themselves to mental anguish for the sake of another teen loosed on the roads. OR they are getting paid a hefty sum as a driving instructor. This hefty sum allots for a large triangular display that is mounted on the hood of the vehicle to
WARN inform other surrounding drivers. For this reason, it’s usually the parent you will find in the passenger seat perpetually swatting their teen’s shoulder. This whacking- which usually coincides with cussing- becomes second nature like a form of Tourette’s each time the car in front of you puts on their brakes. Maybe I am the only one that exhibits this hand to shoulder contact throughout our entire time in the car, but I venture to guess there are others.
There’s another way that I recently experienced the opportunity to carry my cross in the passenger seat, with the added challenge of the capacity to sacrifice my reputation in our community. The inherent Payoff was something parents of teens are not often presented with. None other than …BEING ACTUAL COOL – albeit for 5-7 minutes, or until you change the radio station because you can feel Metallica burning your soul.
We were practicing 3-point turns and parallel parking in a local neighborhood when my little darling says… “Hey mom! Watch this. It’s SO fun.” She promptly abandoned the car with me inside and jumped out, leaving the drivers side door ajar, and ran up to the front door of an arbitrary home. I then realized I was an unwitting accomplice to a live-action ding dong ditch.
As if the evening wasn’t eventful enough, (for me anyways), she wanted to replicate this procedure, to which I vehemently objected. We had to exit the neighborhood, and fast, before we got nabbed by the neighborhood watch dog. You KNOW there is ALWAYS is at least one. That person which takes guarding themselves and their neighbors very seriously. In an upper middle- class subdivision this may entail enforcing edged laws. In a more urban environment, this crusader is oft seen glaring through their mini blinds when thug activity is afoot. These are the informants who can identify height, weight, hair color, and adornment or accessories of any kind worn by perpetrators. They are also keenly informed on all breed of dog, so as to accurately identify any lawn poop that has not been immediately picked up and bagged. This self-imposed position crosses all socio-economic divides and stands to defend and protect the territory surrounding their dwelling.
Wouldn’t you know, that this very individual’s home is the VERY one that my brilliant, Harvard bound, statistically informed offspring arbitrarily chose. I found myself curbside in front of the abode of the neighborhood superintendent. The chieftain. The Shepherd of the neighborhood flock.
Meanwhile, the rush of post “ring and run” adrenaline produced in baby driver a 5-second 100 -meter sprint back to the drivers seat, where the car was immediately shifted to DRIVE and off we went into the … cul-de-sac.
Oh man. That was a lack of foresight. And failure to the notice the word “Court” behind the street name displayed as we frenetically ran through the stop sign. Now we were faced with no choice but to turn around and attempt to pass back by the home unsuspected.
At this time, a wave of revelation came over me, and I was able to offer this sage advice to my young grasshopper : “Stay cool, stay cool. Just follow the speed limit, use your blinkers when turning, and keep driving.” Now, before you say it…I KNOW! I know- How did I have the presence of mind to utter such a pearl of wisdom? I’ve been meditating regularly. Maybe that’s the trick.
This tactic-which is also useful following a five-O spot- was working SWELL. Until we rounded a corner and an oncoming SUV (with some extremely bright headlights, I might add), drove directly up to our vehicle, blocking our way out of the neighborhood. Then the vehicle blocking our path stopped. In front of our car. Headlights to headlights. Like a Disney Pixar Cars face-off. Now, why would a car drive over into the wrong lane and park itself in front of another vehicle driving in the opposite direction? Probably because they were just settling in for an episode of The Bachelor, with popcorn and Pino Grigio when their doorbell rang. They were forced to drop their remote to answer the front door, but no one was there.
My eldest and I looked at each other with a knowing glance. We had to stop the car. there is no ramming into an oncoming vehicle and then quickly making a get away in a suburban neighborhood like they do on TV. She stopped the car. The driver of the other car exited their vehicle and yet LEFT THEIR GLARING HEADLIGHTS ON to shine in our faces. Surely this was an interrogation technique, meant to illuminate the truth out of us. As the petite blonde neighborhood FBI representative approached our car, I do not think she expected a fellow mother to occupy the passenger seat. She appeared to briefly consider turning around, but with stalwart determination made her way to the driver’s window where she addressed my trepidatious teen. “Are you ding-dong ditching?” She wasted no time getting to the question. No pleasantries, no polite banter or small talk. Mission minded.
Instead of answering the inquisition, sweet baby driver turned and looked directly at me. I immediately knew what had to be done. I must lie. What kind of person leaves behind their evening’s entertainment and abandons the safety and comfort of their couch at 10 pm to run down and apprehend a ring and run suspect? The kind of person that will stop at nothing until justice is served. Not only would this potentially delay my daughter’s reception of her license – which we NEED her to have so she can run to the store and other errands for us without our accompaniment – but as the supervising adult of a driver with a restricted license I saw my vehicular freedom pass before my eyes.
It’s disturbing how quickly our deceptive cahoots kicked in. “No. She is not.” I responded. “We are looking for her friends’ house.” Now that taking the lying approach was established, baby driver wasted no time. “Sorry about that! I had the wrong house! My friend lives in this neighborhood and I realized as soon as I rang the doorbell that it was the wrong address.” The covert agent, with a knowing, yet suspicious look asked, “Oh, who is it that you’re looking for? Maybe I can help you find the right house.” We both knew she was SO onto us, but thinking fast, baby driver said. “Her name is Jenny.” And I immediately followed that with a convincing, “Do you know the Finchers?” Our victim didn’t indeed know the Finchers. Probably because they don’t exist. At least they do not live in her neighborhood … to her knowledge. It was likely my adult verification of the lie caused her to believe that we were indeed searching for Jenny Fincher and simply mistaken about the location of her home. I mean, what 40-year-old mom participates willingly in a prank and then lies to another adult about it??? We do not know anyone named Jenny Fincher, much less an entire Fincher family. We made that up. We are horrible liars and we don’t want to lose our driving privileges. We will never ding-dong ditch again. I suppose I can not speak for baby driver. I will never again be party to a ring and run.