Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Life is a highway
A pretty big deal happened around here on Friday afternoon. My first-born passed her road test and can now officially and legally drive. I’m not sure if this is more life-changing for Chloe or for Dale and I; I think both parties have a lot to gain. I will be taking lots of deep breaths and upping my praying time, but I love the idea of not having to drive the kids around as much. Chloe has already picked Neve up from gymnastics, driven herself to school for cheer practice, and taken Neve and Spencer to the library and to the bookstore. Some kids might use their driving powers for evil; Chloe uses her for literary purposes. The downside is that the school, the library and the bookstore are all in walking/biking distance, so the car is being used completely unnecessarily. The other downside is that our driver-to-vehicle ratio is now 3:2. Even so, it’s a good, happy milestone on the road of life. Chloe is ecstatic and has been actively seeking out every possible driving opportunity.
As a parent, the licensing process has been way more stressful than I imagined. Things were different when I was young; in the country, we grew up driving dirt bikes and garden tractors and ATVs and then moved onto cars and trucks well before we were legal. By the time we were sixteen, we were pretty experienced drivers and it was really just a formality to go to Morris to pick up a license. The driver licensing office was only open on Thursdays, so the first Thursday after you turned sixteen, you wrote your learner’s test and the following Thursday you did your road test. The whole process was eight days from start to finish.
Things are different now. Just signing up for Driver’s Ed requires appearing in person – parent and child - with armloads of ID, special documentation from the bank, a unicorn, and a four leaf clover. You also have to be on the ball about when to register. You have to be a very specific age to sign up, but if you wait too long, the session will be full and you’ll have to wait for the next one that starts a few months later.
Chloe had a certain number of driving hours with her instructor (a very nervous, impatient instructor who did more harm than good), and the rest was up to us. Maybe my parents remember otherwise, but I don’t remember practicing driving with them. They were probably smarter by the time Child #4 made it to the driving stage. I tell you, there is nothing good about getting into a vehicle and putting your life in the hands of a child you gave birth to fifteen and a half short years ago. The first couple of times were pretty hard on the nerves, but it slowly got better.
After nine months with a learner’s permit, you can book a road test. Don’t get me started on the process of booking an appointment for the road test. Oh, it’s too late. You’re can’t book an appointment more than two months in advance, so Chloe and I worked backward and marked the date on the calendar. You have to go in person, so when we went to the Autopac office two months before she was eligible for a road test, there was not a single appointment available in all of Manitoba. We were told that more appointments may come available so we should check back every day. Every day. In person. Could they make that any less convenient? There’s probably a committee that is working on that. “What if we tell people that not only do they have to come in person to make the appointment, but they have to wear turquoise pants and walk into the office on their hands! If their feet touch the ground at any time, they have to wait another two months to book an appointment. And they have to speak in flawless Hebrew!” At least I was able to pay and sign some papers that allowed Chloe to return to the Autopac office without me. Luckily, the very next day when she went back, there was an appointment available in Selkirk two months away. And when that road test was unsuccessful, we had to go through the whole process again. This is one of those experiences to add to my “Things I would change if I was the Premier …” list.
Thankfully all of that stress is behind us for now. In the blink of an eye it will be Spencer’s turn, but at least we’ll know what to expect. Better yet, maybe I’ll be the Premier by then.
Today is Day 1 of my attempt to blog every day in October. So far so good. We'll see what happens tomorrow.