A few days ago, I spotted one of my favorite Mutant Ninja Teenagers, who had recently received her license, carefully and confidently driving. She looked great behind the wheel and for a brief moment, I was happy for her. Within a few minutes though, my Pavlovian reaction to seeing this beautiful MN Teenager in the driver’s seat was one of worry – worry that she was a novice maneuvering the dangerous city streets. Even though her own Ninja Mom is an astute worrier, I joined in – I could not help myself!
All little children look forward to the day that they will drive: they imagine the cars they will have when they grow up.
At Disneyland, the day a child is tall enough to drive alone in Autotopia is celebrated as a right of passage. Recently I visited the exhibit Metropolis II at LACM and watched in fascination a room full of children and adults on two levels mesmerized by speeding hot wheels. The exhibit is awesome; I highly recommend it to those who live in Los Angeles. However, while they were all excited by the auto-dynamics, I could not erase from my mind, the worry that the slightest impediment could cause a major accident – I could not help myself!
It is a fact that MN Teenagers turn into drivers. A day that a Ninja Mother must reckon with – for years we complain about the endless driving we do and yet the freedom that a driver’s license provides comes with plenty of worry. I have never heard a parent say, “Boy, my kid is a great drive. I know (s)he is safe when (s)he drives the car!”
When my MN Teens started to drive, I remember sitting in the passenger seat taking long and deep breaths reminiscent of the Lamaze Technique I learned when they were in utero; the damn breathing did not work at child birth (thank G-d for epidurals) and it certainly did not succeed in the passenger seat.
Once they were on the road, my MN Teens were all good drivers. However, between their age and inexperience, and crazy motorists, I was resigned to simply worry. I clearly enforced the Lawful Rules and then had a list of Ninja Mom Rules: No talking on the cell phone, No passengers for the first 6 months, No driving over any speed limits, No eating and drinking while driving, No driving in the middle of the night, No listening to loud music, To Call when they arrived at a location and most important NO TEXTING WHILE DRIVING!!!! No matter when and where, my parting words as a veil of protection have always been, “Please drive carefully. I love you.” And yet, I still worry. I cannot help myself!
Statistically my MN Teens were appropriate and confirmed my fears: three MN Teens had a handful of accidents between them before they turned 18. A few of these accidents appeared to be caused by the other cars, but I believe that their inexperience made it even harder to prevent them in the first place. Even with 66% of the fault not on my MN Teens, the end result was still car accidents.
No matter the scenarios that play out in our heads (and we all know that they do), there is nothing more terrifying then receiving a late night call or even one in the middle of the afternoon from a child telling you that they were just in a car accident. The only bright light is that they are fine and making the call themselves!!!