Vroom vroom vroooooooom

By Mir
June 5, 2015

I don’t think I ever posted about taking Chickadee to get her learner’s permit. We did it well ahead of when we let her start driving—much to her chagrin, because we are simply The Worst—and I guess it seemed like sort of a non-event? The most entertaining part was that it was a twofer—our Bonus Kid at the time who was about half a step above being an orphan also came along for permit-ing due to a lack of actual parental units willing to do the honors, and theoretically you have to be a relative to take a minor to the DMV for this stuff, so when asked if said kid was my child, I smiled and lied, claiming to be the aunt. Without batting an eyelash the clerk signed and stamped all the paperwork while the kids tried not to giggle.

We came home, took a dozen pictures of the two of them posing with their permits, and then neither of them actually learned how to drive. Kind of anti-climactic.

It was a good eight months later that we finally allowed Chickadee behind the wheel, and for the first four months of practice, it was slow going. She was terrified, for one thing, and for another, we’re still The Worst, setting up RIDICULOUS and UNFAIR rules like “be caught up on your schoolwork” and “treat family members with respect” and other such nonsense to earn a turn behind the wheel. It wasn’t until a couple months ago when she really started getting her crap together on a consistent basis that we moved to serious training. Nowadays, if we’re headed somewhere? I just toss her the keys and get in the passenger seat. We’ve both just gotten comfortable with this new status quo.

Of course, I had to go and ruin it. Seeing how many of Chickie’s fears and my fears were unfounded, now that she’s doing so well, I started leaning on Monkey to get his permit, too. (I still have this crazy dream that someday my kids will be completely self-sufficient. HAHA.)

This was met by immediate opposition by BOTH children. Monkey protested because he is absolutely fine with me driving him around, and also because he has all the self-confidence of Q-tip when it comes to picturing himself in unfamiliar situations. “But what if you want to go on a date?” I would press. “I mean, not right now, I know, but SOMEDAY? You want me tagging along to the movies or prom?? Wouldn’t it be nice to drive yourself and your special friend?”

“SPECIAL FRIEND?” I wish I could describe the face he made. It was impressive. “You like going to the movies with me. And prom, sure, yeah, a noisy, crowded space with kids I don’t like and DANCING. Sounds fabulous. Except not.” In other words, my argument was invalid. He will never want to go somewhere without me, obviously.

“Okay, fine. What if you get a JOB. And I am BUSY and can’t always drive you?” I figured I had him, there.

“I’ll take the bus,” he said. “Gotta go!” and he backed away with a flourish meant to communicate that the conversation was over and he was never, ever moving out of my house. Well, then.

Chickadee protested because she was certain that if Monkey starts learning how to drive, that’s less time behind the wheel for her. And that would be unacceptable. It wasn’t until I clarified that—much as we’d done with her—the permit-getting is intended to start that one-year clock before license testing but does NOT mean driving is going to commence immediately that both of them relaxed a little. Still, they both kept saying no.

Finally I put my foot down. “YOU ARE GETTING YOUR PERMIT NEXT WEEK,” I declared one day, pointing what I hoped was a stern and commanding finger at my youngest. “YOU WILL STUDY FOR THE TEST AND YOU WILL GO AND TAKE IT AND PASS AND HAVE A PERMIT. THE END. AND YOU—” I continued, pointing that finger at his sister, “WILL BE ENCOURAGING AND HELPFUL OR YOU WILL BE SILENT.” Both kids looked at me, looked at each other, and burst into peals of laughter. I guess my commanding finger needs some work. NEVERTHELESS, the gauntlet was thrown.

Monkey was still quite nervous. On Sunday I told him we would be going to the DMV Wednesday morning. “Already??” he said, as if we hadn’t been talking about this for a solid month.

“Already!” I said. “You’ll be fine.” He looked unsure. It was time to pull out the last weapon in my arsenal. “If you pass the test and get your permit we’ll stop for donuts on the way home to celebrate.”

“GOTTA GO STUDY!” he called over his shoulder, as he ran off to review the manual again. (Hey, my parenting philosophy has always hinged on bribery. I see no reason to change now.)

Wednesday morning we headed out bright and early. The DMV wasn’t even that crowded. We waited about 10 minutes and then our number was called. We did our paperwork, he got his picture taken, and then the clerk directed him to computer station 5 to do his test. “You’ve got this!” I called, as he headed off.

I sat down in the waiting area. And then the power went out.

It never fails to amuse me when power is lost in a public area. The ROAR of surprise/displeasure is hilarious. I mean, I get that it’s inconvenient and everything, but it’s not like somebody died. The lights flickered, then went out again. And about ten seconds later, everything came back on.

For a moment I wondered if this was going to throw Monkey off so badly that he’d fail the test. Then it occurred to me that maybe his computer was no longer showing the test and he didn’t know what to do.

“Honey? Do you need me to reset that for you?” Another clerk—not the one who’d helped us, but one in visual line with where he was sitting, I guess (I couldn’t see him)—noticed him sitting there, and went and got his test back up for him. I didn’t hear any yelling or complaining, so I figured he was okay.

Then I waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally he emerged, face solemn. “Well?” I asked.

“I passed!” he said. He broke into a small victory dance. “VROOM VROOM CARD TIME!” We giggled and high-fived and eventually the counter where he needed to go was clear and we went up and got his temporary permit.

monkey-permitI think he looks very handsome, don’t you? (What…?)

As we walked back out to the parking lot, I asked him if he wanted to drive home. I suspect asking him if he’d like to be covered in tarantulas would’ve received a warmer reception.


(I wouldn’t have let him drive, anyway, without any actual practice. I just enjoy his horrified reaction.)

“You know,” I said, as we headed donut-ward. “You ARE going to learn to drive. Not right away, but you will.”

“NOT TODAY! Today I am going to eat donuts. Please and thank you.”

He’s a kid with his priorities in order. And manners. Especially when it comes to donuts. Eclairs before freedom! Or something like that.

Baby steps, right? Itty bitty vroom vrooms.


  1. Jen

    My step daughter did not want a permit and proceeded to fail the test when we insisted she get it anyways. Now she is 2 months shy of her 16th birthday and complaing about how her friends can drive and she’s stuck at home, and I’m just like, “uh, then perhaps instead of whining you should study for the permit test.”. (not that she’d be able to drive alone anyways, but now she still has to have her permit for a year)

  2. Megn

    ‘UGE high fives for the finger of command. Good for you! I went soft on my middle child and the little git STILL hasn’t learnt to drive. And she’s been independent* and self sufficient* for ages and ages.

    *I mean other than requiring a friend to drive her absolutely everywhere she may need to go.

    Mind you, I don’t own a car, delight in walking or taking the train everywhere, and frequently point out that people who would drive in my city are bonkers.** But that’s not the point. I COULD drive, I just opt not to :)

    ** They are. They really are. Twisty, narrow medieval streets with thousands of baffled and bemused tourists who have NO idea what direction traffic may come from next and frequently leap out into the middle of the road to take selfies. Must be mental!

  3. Jen H.

    I thought this was adorable until I noticed that Monkey is only 10 months older than my son. Which means this is looming on my horizon. Lalalalala I can’t hear you!

  4. Brigitte

    Love Monkey’s pic! ;-)
    Hee, the public power outage reminds me of an incident over 20 years ago that STILL amuses me and my husband. Ah, good times, good times . . .

  5. Mandy

    Hey, Mir,

    Did you forget to blur out his signature above the top pic? Or are my eyes playing tricks on me?

    • Mir

      LOL! That’s Nathan Deal’s signature (he’s our governor).

  6. Karen

    I’m probably the only one who’s gonna say this… but … maybe he’s just really not ready to be a driver. I don’t know that I would push it on someone who is being clear that he really isn’t ready to do it. I hope I’m not offending with my opinion.. just the general thought as I was reading the post.

    I understand that it’s pretty vital when you live in an area that is probably not on a public bus route, as is the truth in my neck of the the woods anyway, so I get that it can be a dilemna.

    I’ve known a few young people who were very intimidated by the thought of driving and were well into their 20’s before they actually did so. I think having to rely on others to get them places and the inconvenience it caused them as well as others finally pushed them to get past either the fear or the -whatever it was that held them back- to actually get their license.

    Best of luck to you all as you navigate this new chapter.

    • Mir

      No offense taken, Karen. He isn’t ready right this second. But he’s one that almost never feels ready for something new, and requires a bit of cajoling/encouraging to get moving. I’m absolutely not starting him driving yet, but given that here in Georgia you have to have the permit for a year before you can test, and given that I’ve seen his attitude change instantly once he’s ready, I just wanted to get the clock started (as well as planting the seed that this is something he WILL be doing). When we think it’s time to start putting him behind the wheel, of course we’ll gauge his actual readiness and adjust accordingly.

      • Karen

        Well said, and well though out :-)

  7. Aimee

    He looks very handsome — the background of the permit brings out the green in his eyes :)

  8. Carla Hinkle

    What’s really crazy is that kids born in THE YEAR TWO THOUSAND are old enough to get their permit. Whoa. (Congrats!)

  9. Kate

    Why does his permit expire in a month and a half? That seems like a nightmare, to keep having to get it renewed every six weeks!

    I too almost had a panic attack when I realized that my kid is only 5 years behind Monkey, so that means I’ll be at that stage with him in 5 years. Aaaahhhhhh!!!!!!

    • Mir

      Hahahahaha don’t worry, this is just the paper one he got right away, and they mail the real one—that’s why it expires so fast. Once he gets the plastic one that lasts for several years if we need it to!

  10. Chuck

    The fact that people born in 2000 are now getting their learner permits is…kind of scary to me, actually. Of course, I see reminders of how old I am all the time but this is another one to add to my list. :) Best of luck to Monkey on the incremental driving journey.

  11. Jen

    Itty bitty vroom vrooms. Love it.

  12. Michelle

    My daughter was eligible for her permit a year ago, but it took some convincing to get her to take the test-I finally got her in at the end of August. What finally worked for me was to tell her that she needed to go through the process (she’s a very cautious kid and driving here in the DC area can be pretty intimidating for even a seasoned driver) but that once she’d taken behind the wheel and had her license it was up to her whether or not she wanted to drive. I was worried it would become a ‘thing’ if I didn’t make her go through it. She passed her test a couple weeks ago but still has a few hours of logged practice to turn in before we can go pick it up. Even so, I don’t think she’s ready to be behind the wheel by herself, can you say flakey and easily distracted?–she must have been on her best behavior the day they tested. Maybe the prospect of the freedom of driving for donuts whenever he wants will be enough for Monkey to overcome his fears. . .

  13. Heather D.

    Here in Michigan you have to take drivers training before you can get a permit, which my son is doing right now. He could not wait to start driving. He was release to drive with me on Sunday after his 2nd drive with the instructor and he asked if he could drive home. He did really good, but I am glad that he will be driving with me for the next year. I’m not ready for my baby to be driving on his own!

  14. mkw

    Ha! Same boat with two kids. Both have their permits. Called my husband the other evening as big girls and I were traveling home from appointments. Asked what he was doing. He said sitting in the passenger seat as little girl was practicing her driving. I laughed and told him I was sitting in passenger seat as big girl was honing her driving skills/driving me bonkers by simultaneously thinking she could search for radio stations while dodging traffic and watching for deer while driving at dusk. AAaaggh. Sigh.

    • Mir

      My favorite part of my daughter driving now is that she’s too busy driving to muck with the radio the way she always did from the passenger seat!

  15. 12tequilas

    Things are different now. I keep hearing from parents of teenagers that their children don’t want to learn or that they learned but hate driving. When I was that age, we were all counting the minutes until we could be full-fledged licensed drivers. I was 16 AND A HALF when I got my license and I thought *that* was *late*. Then you have my nephew who I think was 18 or 19 when he finally got the license? I understand that some of this is due to the kid not actually having a car, or in some cases really not needing one, but a lot of it is a weird attitude shift that I just don’t get.

    I guess the good news is that there will be fewer younger drivers with bad judgment on the road?

    • Mir

      I do think it’s good news that we have fewer young drivers on the road, yes. And I think a lot of the shift is due to two things:

      1) Kids can text/Facetime/etc. online and don’t have to BE together to be together, now. When we were kids, you were together in person or on the phone (tying up the line and getting yelled at by your parents). There weren’t other options.

      2) When we were kids, you got your license and immediately loaded up as many friends as you could fit in the car and off you went to sweet freedom. There are a lot more restrictions on how many people you can take with you in the car, now, which makes the “sweet freedom” part a lot less free.

  16. The Other Leanne

    I’m thinking about how long it took Monkey to learn to ride a bike…and as I recall, one day he just did it. I suspect it will be like that with driving.

    • Mir

      I can’t believe you remember that!! And yes, I agree. Hence the preparation even though he’s “not ready.”

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