A big part of helping Brandon adjust has been facilitating normal life milestones that he has missed out on due to circumstances beyond his control. When he moved in two months ago the things on his wish list were the very things that most teenage boys his age take for granted. He wanted to see his siblings (many of whom he hasn’t seen for years), be able to decorate his own bedroom, attend “normal school,” go out for the football team and get his driver’s permit. We began working on his wish list as soon as he moved in and soon the only thing left was,
“Get my driver’s permit!”
Three weeks ago he accomplished this goal.
It took a few trips to the DMV to pass. Like many 16-year-olds, he felt confident that his natural knowledge base was sufficient to pass the permit test. He figured that since he knew the mechanics of driving a vehicle he should easily pass the test…despite our encouragement that his chance of passing would increase exponentially if he would crack open the driving manual and study…
But some lessons must be learned the hard way. After a few failed attempts he decided to give our suggestion a try and spent the week studying his book and doing hours of online practice tests.
His efforts paid off.
And immediately asked if he could drive home.
This was the moment I had been dreading. Having taught two kids to drive and currently engaged in the task of teaching Rusty to drive, I considered myself a pretty confident teacher, but Brandon is a different sort of kid than my older three. While they are cautious and careful, he is confident and fearless, and I expected that teaching Brandon how to drive would be very different than my first three experiences as a “Driver’s Ed teacher.” I expected getting in the passenger’s seat with Brandon behind the wheel would be more like a NASCAR race and a accurate foreshadowing of what it will be like to teach Tyler to drive.
How surprised I was to discover how wrong I was. It wasn’t the white knuckle nightmare I expected. He is actually a natural behind the wheel. He is a confident driver without being reckless. He listens and asks questions if uncertain what a sign means. He has a good feel for the car and his reaction time and easy starts and stops make it seem as though he has been driving for months. It has only been a few weeks but he probably could walk into the DMV and pass his driving test today if the state didn’t have a mandatory 6 month wait for new permit drivers. He is THAT comfortable behind the wheel.
I always know when we have reached the point where things click with my new driver, because I find myself sitting in the passenger seat enjoying the scenery rather than anxiously scanning for potential accident scenarios. On his first day behind the wheel I found myself relaxed and enjoying the ride when it occurred to me he had only been a licensed driver for 15 minutes and I better at least pretend to be anxious and on edge.
The next week was spent with Brandon driving every chance he could. I soon realized that we would have to figure out some sort of schedule or rotation if I was going to pry Brandon’s fingers off the steering wheel so Rusty could get in his mandatory 65 hours of driving practice in as well.
But as soon as I started making plans, Brandon was off the schedule.
A bad hit at a football game left him with a nasty concussion and until he is cleared he is back in the passenger seat.
He is counting down the days until his follow-up appointment,
And when the doctor reports his brain has healed enough for him to be safely behind the wheel I am sure you will see him cruising around town!