This past week, my oldest daughter took her driver's ed class. When we signed up in the winter, I realized this was a milestone moment, but it didn't really hit me until she came home from class that very first day and told me about those awful movies that scare kids about driving.
I remembered these same movies from my driver's ed class back in 1982. But I suspect the ones my daughter and her friends watched didn't include a Country Squire station wagon with wood paneling, and I know for sure no one talked about texting and driving in the 80s.
Still, the sentiment was the same: Driving can be dangerous and you have to take it seriously.
I do believe from what I understand about the laws in North Carolina in reference to the graduated license that driving is taken seriously, and taken in incremental steps to allow young drivers to be prepared. I remember driving off the lot at the DMV in Pennsylvania right after I passed my test with just six measly hours of driving under my belt and thinking that I had no business being on the road. My husband might argue that still holds true today.
But while I have the normal fears about my child getting behind the wheel, I believe that through this process of learning and carefully planned steps she will be well-prepared for the task. Also, knowing her personality, I feel strongly she will be a responsible and careful driver once she gets some experience on the road.
Just like other milestones in life where we are forced to give our children more independence and the freedom to make important choices, this one is not without risk. But it is also part of the path they take to becoming separate from their parents, like a mother bird nudging her children out of the nest. Transportation equals freedom, and freedom is what all young people crave as they journey into adulthood.
"Are you ready for this?" other mothers ask me as I tell them my daughter is taking the class this summer.
"No" is the honest answer. Are we ever truly ready for our children to do anything that can be dangerous? But we have to let them fly. This mama bird intends to do just that ...
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.