I realize that this is not a very exciting picture:
but believe me, if you were seated where I was, in the very back of the van on Thanksgiving Day while my 3rd beautiful child drove you to my brother's house, you might say it was the most exhilarating ride of your life. And when you got out, your knees might be as weak as if you just delivered someone's baby en route. Yes, young moms, it's truly that exciting when your child starts driving. You have so much to look forward to.
I have been through this twice already, but I must have blocked out the horrors of the ones who came before her, because I had surely forgotten what it's like to see a stop sign coming directly at your face at 30 mph. If I grabbed the wheel every time I got frightened, I'd be on her lap instead of my seat.
I had forgotten that where your eyes go, your vehicle will follow, so if you're worried about oncoming traffic and you're watching it, your van will start heading toward the yellow line as if in a trance.
I had forgotten how tricky ice can look on a road--shiny? black? gray and rough? Yes, all of the above.
I had forgotten that when they negotiate corners, sometimes they swing WAY out before turning the wheel, and suddenly you're saying, "HI!" to the car sitting in the lane they just invaded, realizing you just infringed on someone's personal space while still within your vehicle.
I had forgotten that sometimes they start slowing up 100 ft. from the intersection, and sometimes you have to bite your tongue before finally saying, "Stop, stop, STOP!" as they stop on a dime just inches from "too far" into the intersection. There is no consistency. You cannot rest. You cannot let your guard down. Or you will pee your pants.
People, this is rough. In more ways than one.
The day she got her permit, I sat and watched my "baby" take her test. I admired her long chestnut hair down her back, her slim torso and small arms resting on the desk in front of her while she read the questions. She looked so young compared to the truckers and grandmas and real estate agents in there renewing licenses. My heart was all wrenched up with emotion.
She waited with me until they called her name to give her the results. She walked across the room by herself, and I saw the woman behind the desk mouth the words, "You passed."
I was both happy and sad. So proud, I texted her dad right away to tell him. So happy, to share in her joy. But so sad, knowing that this opens a chapter in the ending of her story with us. Once they drive, it's never the same.
But I hid any reservations and joined them at the woman's direction. We had to sign papers, both of us, and then she asked my daughter, "Do you want to be a donor?"
"Yes," Kristin replied.
"Total or partial?"
"What does that mean?"
The lady explained that "total" meant physicians could take any organ at the moment they deemed appropriate, and "partial" meant that parents had to give consent for different organs.
Kristin replied, "Total."
The lady said, "She is a minor. Do you agree to this?"
I am embarrassed to tell you that I said, "Um, I think, 'partial.'" Kristin smirked at me, but the lady remained reaction-less.
I rationalized apologetically: "She's my baby. It's really hard to imagine the scenario anyway; I'm just not ready. When she's 18 she can decide for herself, but not yet."
So that was settled. But then the woman next to me, there to renew her license, began talking about a weight loss surgery, which distracted every female employee within 20 feet. I mean they ALL were mesmerized by her before and after pictures, and the lady helping us got so distracted she began speaking to me as I were the one getting the permit. I had to re-direct her to Kristin, and Kristin and I both cracked up when the ladies around us weren't looking. It wasn't hard, since everyone was looking at the person next to us.
Finally, it was time for her photo. Another odd moment: the lady said to Kristin, "Don't smile. You can't smile." And just her saying that cracked Kristin up, which made the lady and me laugh, too. She said a new regulation had begun that day saying that no one can smile in the DL pic anymore. She didn't know why, but I suspect it's because when police stop people and ID them, the person is rarely smiling.
When we walked out, Kristin said, "I had to sign one of those screens like you do for a charge card purchase, and I'd never signed one before. It felt weird and my handwriting was terrible!"
I laughed and told her I probably sign at least one of those every day of my life.
My daughter has so many new experiences ahead of her; she has no idea, really. But I do. I'm watching over her in the wings--in the next seat, if you will, amazed that my child is becoming an adult.
But she's not there yet. For now, we could use a bumper sticker for the van that says, "Mom is my co-pilot. My very nervous co-pilot."