|Anna and the Jaguar|
Julia is 15 and old enough to have her driver's permit. Does she have it yet? No. Why? Well, because we're not highly motivated to make it happen. In other words, several times so far Adam has intended to get her signed up for the course and drive her over to the high school to jump through all the hoops, but he's forgotten. Oops.
Interestingly, Julia has forgotten too. Not that she doesn't want her permit; she does. But she doesn't long for it desperately enough for it to stay in the front of her mind so she remembers and pesters and begs and makes it happen.
And I wondered this morning ... why? Has our disinterest in the matter transferred to our children?
The three older children did proceed through driver's education courses, and two of them got their permits afterward. But they didn't do much driving. We almost exclusively used our van at the time, and we didn't want them driving that vehicle. If they wrecked it, we were in a terrible spot. We had an old Volvo they drove a little for practice, but eventually it died and we donated it.
|One of two dead cars being hauled away by the NPR car donation folks|
Which tells you something. Perhaps driving is not this rite of passage that most of us baby-boomers think it is. Perhaps teenagers can be perfectly well-adjusted if they don't drive until sometime in college. Perhaps instead of it being foisted upon them, it's better to wait until they decide driving is a necessity for living, and they knuckle down and assess the cost against the convenience.
It's hard. We did send our Jaguar to college with Philip for a while, but that car was more of a headache and a menace than a help, I'm telling you! He was so happy to give it back to us and told us flatly that he never wanted to drive it again. A year or two later, he bought his own car, and now he's traded that in for a second car. He's on his own.
|Philip's cheap little car, which actually served him quite well|
|She had it about a year before it died.|
Peter is currently looking for a car of his own as a junior in college. He's careful. He doesn't want to spend his cash on a lemon. He's been working hard, saving up.
All that to say, I think we inadvertently took a very wise path in our children's driving experience. We saved ourselves a lot of grief and expense, and they learned some rather important financial lessons. We weren't trying to be mean. That's the nice thing about being poor: when you say "No, we can't afford it," it's an answer that's hard to argue with.
The age of everybody-owns-a-car in our country is probably passing. I'm hopeful that some areas of the nation will have increased public transportation (trains, please!) in the near future. If you have upcoming teens, think outside the box of your own driving experience as you assess when they should drive. If you don't stress over it, perhaps they won't either.