This is it. We got up early so we could beat the line at the Jacksonville, NC, DMV. DJ turned 16 while we were no vacation, and we couldn’t wait two more days to get back to Raleigh. So, this morning we drove 45 minutes to the nearest town to see if she could take the test that will push her toward total independence.
The kid in line before us slinked out of the glass room with his head down low.
“I failed,” he told his dad. “The guy said I drove 33 in a 55 mile per hour zone. I actually went too slow.”
Dear God above, please let DJ go too slow too. Please, please.
I assume He can perform miracles, but DJ driving slowly may even be beyond His capabilities.
She returned from the road test with a Cheshire Cat grin on her face. I knew my fate.
When we returned to the beach house, she announced she would be driving her sisters to lunch in Surf City, 20 minutes away.
“I’m hungry too,” I pleaded.
“We’ll bring you some back.”
My parting words were: “I want all of my children back here, in one piece!”
“I’m with her,” Stephanie assured me. “She won’t do anything crazy with me in the car.”
I didn’t feel any better.
Now they are gone, and I am here – alone. I put my phone by my chair and turned the sound up high, just in case they need me.
Damn, this is sort of scary. I think she’s a pretty cautious driver, but she’s young and inexperienced. Oh, and the woman in line behind us at the DMV who was excited she was finally getting the breathalizer off her ignition is presumable back on the road this afternoon.
I can’t help but ponder the hours we’ve spent in my car together. There were the Barney years in the minivan. I could sing every word to every one of that purple dinosaur’s tunes. There was the first time she weighed enough to sit in the front seat. And three years ago when I was thrown into the role of primary carpooler for the Tanner family.
Although a relief to know I’ll no longer speed through town working to pick up all three girls at the exact same hour, I surely will miss our conversations. We’ve wept, shared our dreams and yelled at the top of our voices in that car. But mainly, we’ve laughed – laughed and laughed and laughed.
Somehow those gray leather seats bring out the best in us. The ability to divulge our inner most thoughts made so much easier when sitting side-by-side. I think it’s the lack of eye contact.
This whole growing up stuff is going to take some getting used to. I fear that DJ isn’t the only one in this house who is figuring out how to become an adult. There’s a 47-year-old who’s also getting some on-the-job grown up training right now.