The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Driver's Ed

From my perch a discreet distance away, I watch the car pull into the DMV lot. There are no additional dents and scratches, which bodes well. The road test guy, Ed, emerges jauntily from the passenger’s side. I stroll over to the curb, prepared to exchange high-fives with my daughter in celebration of her new status as a member of the driving elite.

She is crumpled over the steering wheel sobbing.

I never imagined she would fail.

Even when Ally could barely see over the steering wheel, you could tell she would be the best driver in the family. Other kids on family vacations crave beach time or roller coasters or T-rex skeletons. Not Ally. Her favorite aspect of any trip was when we let her loose behind the wheel in empty parking lots. At age fourteen she could flawlessly and quickly maneuver the car up a narrow, winding hill -- in reverse.

By the time Ally was old enough to get her permit, I was such a blasé instructor that I had to remind myself not to do crossword puzzles while she racked up her fifty hours of parent-taught lessons. She was a natural, so I just relaxed and went along for the ride.

Now I can’t believe she’s flunked. Maybe we were too cocky, and the punishment for our hubris will be an extended sentence of chauffeuring and low-insurance rates. I can handle that. Fortified, I reach through the window to comfort my still-hysterical daughter.

“N-n-n-o-o, I-I-I p-passed,” she manages to gasp between sobs. “He was just so MEAN!!!”

Ally recounts how Ed berated her, challenging every move with sarcasm and derision. It took everything she had not to break down in front of him, or accidentally ram the front passenger side into a lamppost.

Instantly, I am ready to storm the DMV office, demanding Ed’s ouster. How dare he humiliate and abuse my daughter like this? Clearly, he should not be allowed around children.

“Let’s go talk to somebody about it,” I suggest. She shakes her head furiously.

Once again, I am precariously balanced on that tightrope parents so often tread. Does Ally need an impassioned advocate or a shoulder to cry on? If I say nothing, am I complicit with an adult bully? Or am I just one of those helicopter parents, always hovering, ready to swoop down and rescue her from feeling bad?

Then I remember that from toddlerhood on, Ally could detect the slightest tone of maternal exasperation at fifty paces. A raised eyebrow could trigger a meltdown. By her sensitive standards, my lifetime rate of reportable offenses is much higher than Ed’s in all his sadistic glory could ever dream of.

“Maybe they purposefully try to rattle you to make sure you can withstand pressure,” I muse. “Plus, you’re bound to be pretty anxious anyway just taking the test.”

NO! He’s just mean! Everybody says so! Even my driving instructor warned me about him.”

I had chatted with Ed briefly while signing the pre-test forms.

“Must be fun driving around with sixteen-year-olds all day. I don’t envy you,” I’d said.

“Oh, it’s people of all ages,” Ed replied. “Just yesterday I had to take a license away from an eighty-year-old.”

So he wasn’t an ogre. Just an overworked, underpaid guy trying to protect the public’s safety. If I were in Ed’s shoes, I’d be in jail or an asylum after just one day.

I reconsider whether or not this helicopter parent needs to start spinning her rotors. Maybe my daughter just needs someone to hear her out, not a rescue mission.

“Are you ready to go in now? I ask Ally. We walk into the DMV.

“There you are!” beams the guy behind the counter. “We were beginning to worry about you. Congratulations! Wait . . . are you crying?”

“No,” Ally shrugs. Then she fills out the rest of the paperwork.

Big girls DO cry. Then they dry their tears, hit the gas, and drive off, leaving me and Ed in the dust.

By Lorrie Goldin


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I too have an intuitive, highly sensitive daughter. Thanks for the affirmation that it's okay to just "let it pass" sometimes rather than go to battle for our kids. I'll remember this reminder in years to come!
Sometimes they do not even want our comfort. All we can do is hang back and be there. Even if they never ask for it they feel our love and support.
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