My fifteen year old got his learner's permit today. It's funny, but I was actually more excited for him to get it than he was. I don't remember having that emotion with this huge step in his brothers' lives.
I'm the driver's ed teacher because I'm the laid back, patient one who will take the time to do it. It's been 15 years since I taught my oldest son and 12 since the second, but I don't remember pushing the issue. I also remember being more nervous with them.
Am I just older and calmer? Older yes, calmer, not really. It was just funny that I hardly had any nervous moments today in the 2 hours that we drove.
With the older boys, I took them to the rodeo grounds, which has a huge empty parking lot that makes a great place to drive, turn, park, and back up without hitting anything. It helped give them confidence before they got out on the road.
But it's the week before the 4th of July. In Cody Wyoming. Rodeo Capitol of the World. The Cody Stampede, July 1-4 are the biggest days of the year here. In other words, there are lots of tourists, and the rodeo grounds are not empty.
Next best thing - the church parking lot. It's maybe a quarter of the size, but still gives some good practice with turns and parking, while at the same time learning to avoid obstacles like the handcart and scout trailer stored near the storage building.
It worked well.
Soon he was ready to drive down the highway toward the next town to the east of us. Once you leave the houses a few miles out, there's pretty much nothing but wild horses and antelope along with the sagebrush for 50 miles.
He drove until we came to the turn off for a large oil field and we followed a windy paved road for an hour until we eventually came to the highway that led back to our house from the south. It was good practice, and we got to enjoy the abundant flowers blooming among the sagebrush and the beautiful mountains all around us. And the talking. The talking is always fun.
When we got home, Andre thanked me for making him get his license and saying how much he liked driving. He didn't know why he'd put it off so long.
I smiled and told him I was glad and that I'd had a good day.
But inside I was dreaming of the day I can send him to school or activities or the store on his own. When I can stay home and not have to slip my shoes on and off several times a day. When I don't make multiple trips into town to drop off and pick up. When he is more independent.
Wait. Maybe I'm not so anxious for that day . . . I think I'll miss those 7 minute talks that have become such an important part of our lives.