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
Like many parents, I look at the wide world around my kids and do my best to prepare them for life. We talk about working hard, being kind and responsible, Internet safety, stranger danger, and the (gulp) birds and the bees. But what about a topic such as race?
If you're like me, looking around your house in the weeks before Christmas will probably have you convinced that the last thing your kids need to find underneath the tree is a pile of new toys.
I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about how lucky we are to have what we have. Though our house is tiny and our van is unequipped with automatic doors, we have all we could ever need, and a lot of what we want.
On the evening of Nov. 6, a throng of people gathered at Monona Terrace. They were there to attend an impressive anniversary shindig, but the real buzz of excitement centered on the event's guest of honor.
You may call them "play dates," but I like the term "mom dates," especially since my kids are still too young to really care that there's another small person to squabble over toys with.
If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.
At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).
My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.
"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.