A few weeks ago my 15 year old son got his driver’s permit.
I took a photo of him at the motor vehicle office. His smile said it all.
It was the marking of a milestone. A memory. It’s etched.
What I did say was “You did it! This is so awesome! It’s a new chapter!!”
What I meant was “Noooooooooooooooo!!!!! Don’t grow up this quickly, watch for intersections, watch for other cars, don’t drive at night, don’t ever text and get your dad to drive with you because I’m not going to make it.”
The very first time we drove together, I put my feet on the dashboard, and grabbed the handle above the door, the one that never works as an emergency brake.
He didn’t even put the key in yet.
“What are you doing? ” He asked.
“I’m getting ready.” I replied.
“For what? Do you think I’m going to get into an accident.” He astutely asked.
“Not at all. This is so when you’re driving I don’t scare you by grabbing anything.” I was not backing down.
“Listen. If you don’t trust me to drive safely, then I get afraid and I don’t trust myself. So either you stop or I can’t do this.”
he kindly leveled me with words that gave perspective to all the days I have with him until he goes off to college – trust me.
I took my feet down and then moved my hand to the door, explaining, “You’re right. I don’t trust you. But I want to learn to. I need my hand here for now on this door rest. I’m sorry. Let’s do this.”
And what was supposed to be a brave 5 minutes for us both ended up as a 25 minute ride where we laughed, and talked and trusted.
It comes from believing in someone outside of our control.
The habit of it is really tough, but what it produces is profound connection, respect for our kid’s “self-ness”, and an honoring of their choices in the world. Sure there will be failures and consequences, but while they are under our roof, let it happen. Let it happen.
Whether our kids are five or fifteen, learning to walk or learning to drive, may we take our hands off the wheel, feet off the dashboard, and grip off the door, and let go. They deserve at least that.. at least that nod of “you’ve got this!”
Let trust happen.