Yesterday, the younger of my two children passed her road test. She is now a licensed driver. Naturally, this is a major rite of passage in her young life: it means that her mother is no longer legally obligated to ride shotgun.
My daughter is a fine driver (my definition of good driving is paying attention to what is going on around you, while maintaining a healthy humility about the gravity of what it is you're doing every time you get behind the wheel of a car). I have no qualms about handing over the keys to the car. But I am really bad at being a parent-passenger. I'm jumpy and nervous, fully aware how unhelpful this is, and yet totally powerless to stop myself. I'm sure my daughter will be thrilled to pull out of the driveway and leave me behind.
I confessed this to my own mother yesterday. "I know," she said. "My teeth are still clenched from your brother." The only reason her teeth are not still clenched from teaching me to drive is that by the time I came of age, she'd figured out how to outsource the whole process: to a lovely man named Mr. Carr (no kidding) who had taught our entire town how to drive in his enormous yellow '72 Ford.
I told my mom that I'm finally beginning to relax a bit with my older daughter (who, at 23, has owned her car for a year and has driven more or less all over the country).
"That's pretty good," she said. "I began to relax with you when you were 45."
In any event, here's what I have to say (or rather, sing) about that: