I think it was my driver's ed teacher -- or maybe it was my mother -- who told me, as I placed the key in the ignition of our 1960-something Chevy Impala for the very first time, that unless I became a police officer, fire fighter or joined the armed services, driving was the most dangerous activity I would likely undertake in my life.
While I have no idea if this is statistically true, these words have echoed loudly in my mind this past week. My 15-year-old son now has his learner's permit.
Getting the permit was deceptively easy. He passed a written test at his driver's ed class and the next day he and I headed to the DMV. While there he filled out some paperwork, decided to become an organ donor, got his picture taken, and took a quick eye test. I then signed a document accepting responsibility for his driving actions (yikes) and the woman behind counter three handed us a temporary copy of the permit (the laminated real deal comes in the mail). It took all of 20 minutes.
Legally, he could have driven me home. Except I don't think he even knows how the headlights work.
I guess you could say the hard part starts now. Sure, he'll take a couple of lessons behind the wheel as part of his driver's ed class. But ultimately, it's my husband and I who will teach him to drive.
And for me, that's like asking me to teach someone how to swim or ride a bike. Both are things I know how to do. But I'm hardly a master of either one of them, and you certainly wouldn't want me as your instructor. As a driver, you would call me competent, at best. I can probably get you from point A to point B safely, but it might not be too pretty -- the multiple dings and scratches on the side of my car pay testament to this fact.
Fortunately though, my husband should be pretty good at this. First, he really enjoys driving -- the more challenging the situation, the better. When we lived in Mexico City some years back, I never once got behind the wheel of our Nissan Tsuru. There didn't seem to be any rules of the road South of the Border, as far I could tell. No one used turn signals, or respected speed limits or road signs. They only used horns. And used them all the time.
But my husband relished the automobile anarchy. He took great pride in becoming a simultaneously excellent offensive and defensive driver. To him, driving has always been a bit of a sport. And one he really enjoys playing.
But perhaps more importantly, my husband is also more patient. His number one rule of the universe is "don't panic." And I am guessing this philosophy will make him far better equipped at keeping his cool during the inevitable parallel parking pitfalls and ill-advised lane changes that come with beginning driving.
So I think for right now I might take the back seat when it comes to my son's driving instruction. Instead, I will concentrate my time on silently praying he actually does become a police officer.
But the kind of officer, mind you, who rides a horse instead of driving the squad car.
Any other moms out there with kids of driving age? Any tips on how you protected both your kid and your sanity while teaching offspring how to drive?comments powered by Disqus
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders " 10 boys and six girls " enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.
Breathe in, breathe out. Have you ever been in the heat of a parenting moment with these words ringing through your head? Then you're on the right path toward mindful parenting.
The week between Christmas and New Year's is famous for all sorts of things. Malls are packed with folks exchanging those holiday sweaters that don't fit just right. It's the week those same folks pledge to never again eat another frosted sugar cookie or candy cane (hence the sweater issues). It's also the week the media saturates the public with dozens of "Best of Year" lists.
This will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage, though. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.
I am so thrilled that the United Way is sponsoring a Teen Gift Drive this holiday season. Sure, teen "wants" often aren't as fun to shop for as precious baby dolls and sweet Lego sets. But middle and high school kids still "need" to feel valued and loved during this time of year. And helping a family in need to provide this for their child is a wonderful way to get in the spirit.