That time we parents dread…

My daughter is about to start driving.

I can’t believe it.

After her upcoming 15th birthday, I’m taking her to the DMV to get her learner’s permit. She’s already passed the classroom course and, ever since taking it, has pointed out everything I do wrong behind the wheel. Something about that seems familiar…

I’m approaching this milestone with a mix of trepidation and melancholy. I’ll be teaching Josie how to drive, something I’ve never done before, and my little girl takes another big step towards independence. Part of me is proud of the young woman she’s becoming, but Daddy is missing his ‘little girl’ and is not ready for her to be so grown up.

There will be advantages once she gets her license. I won’t spend nearly as much time chauffeuring her around. She’ll be able to get herself, and her brother, to and from school. She’ll probably want to do as much of the family driving as we’ll let her get away with. Something about that seems familiar, too…

I’m not sure how I’ll handle all this. It’s one of those things where you don’t know how you’ll react until faced with it. If I have half the patience with Josie that my father had with me, I should be fine. Looking back, it’s a wonder I never gave either of my parents a coronary. Not that I was a bad driver, but rather that I had a lead foot. Oh, who am I kidding? I still do.

As soon as Josie has that little piece of paper in hand, we’re off to the State Fairgrounds for her first turn behind the wheel. That was suggested to me and it seems like a good idea. There are intersections, open areas, and virtually no traffic this time of year. I wonder if I should get my doctor to prescribe a tranquilizer for the experience.

I’ll be the first to admit that I make a lousy passenger. Just ask my wife, who won’t hesitate to agree. When it comes to teaching Josie to drive, I wonder which of my parents I’ll be like. My patient, but firm, father? Or my firmer, and more…vocal mother? I guess I’ll find out.

All kidding aside, this is a big deal both for Josie and me. We’re both going to make mistakes. That’s inevitable. The trick is to learn from them and not dwell on them. That’s especially true for me. After all, I’ll have to do this again in a couple of years for my son.

I am not ready for my daughter to be so grown up. She’s my firstborn, and will always be ‘Daddy’s little girl.’ I remember the day Angela and I were getting ready to take her home from the hospital. We were waiting for the staff to do their thing so we could leave and looked at each other, both of us thinking the same thing; they’re letting us take this baby out of here by ourselves? Are they nuts? Now here we are, fifteen years later, getting ready to hand over the keys. What happened to the time?

The heck of it is, she’ll probably end up being a better driver than me.

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