We are closing in on the inevitable. In very short order, possibly within weeks, I will stand at my driveway and watch my son drive away in a car. By himself.
I remember standing there when I first watched my daughter drive off by herself. And I remember her mom getting home about 20 minutes later and saying, “I’m not comfortable with this.”
To which I replied, “I know. That’s why I told her to go on before you got here and stood in the driveway blocking her from leaving.” She conceded that was a fair point.
I am not sure she will be up for watching our youngest roll out alone, either. But once he passes his impending driver’s test, the state of South Carolina has deemed him suitable for driving a vehicle. (Some restrictions apply.)
To his credit, he has done quite well with his driving. He is very safety conscious. He has no time for passenger shenanigans, which includes turning on the radio, idol chatter or talking on the phone. Since he wants me to pay complete and total attention (side note: I do), I am also reassured that he takes the issue of attention seriously. On the very first drive after getting his learner’s permit, he was driving near our house and, with hands affixed at 10 and 2 and eyes laser focused on the road, said, “Why in the world would anyone try and use a phone while driving?!” Keep that healthy fear, young fella!
He has taken driving lessons, which have been a big help. Driving lessons are required by law. I do not know if that is South Carolina law. Maybe, maybe not. But it is Gibbons' law. Wanna drive? You’re taking driving lessons.
He takes his lessons from a company that is staffed by current and former police officers, which is a great way to bring some serious heavyweight authority to driving directions. Dude isn’t gonna respond in “I know, Dad,” tone to a police officer, retired or otherwise.
He is getting more confident in his driving with each passing day. I know this because the number of times he now says, “Can I drive?” when we are going somewhere is roughly all the time.
Normally, he drives me places. His mom does drive some with him, but she will admit that she is not that comfortable riding shotgun. I reminded my son that his mother and I have been together for more than 26 years, and she is not comfortable riding shotgun when I’m driving. So he shouldn’t take it personally.
Usually it’s just short drives around town, but he has done some longer drives, in particular on some back highways throughout South Carolina. He is very interested in knowing all of the driving rules and how to address various scenarios he might encounter. Some are simple, such as, “What do I do if a car is passing me on a solid yellow line?” Others, however, present complicated scenarios that I feel are fairly unique to his inner thoughts, such as, “What happens if I’m at a four-way stop and all the cars go at once and a deer jumps into the intersection and the intersection suddenly floods?” (Answer: Ask the police officers.)
He has one more official driving class, and then he’s ready to take the test. Assuming he passes it, he will be ready to head off. (Some restrictions still apply.) It will be just as tough to watch him drive away as it was when his sister did. I suppose I will have to tell my wife about it at some point.