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Teen gets driver's license, Mom enters 'The Terrifying Years'

Handing a child the car keys opens up

Handing a child the car keys opens up a whole new world. Credit: iStock

Yesterday my son drove to Chipotle for dinner.

I was petrified the entire ride.

And I wasn’t even in the car.

See, yesterday afternoon, my 17-year-old passed his road test and earned his driver’s license. (Side note to parents: When you're on pins and needles at the conclusion of the test trying to decipher from your child's facial expression and body language how he did, if you see the official in the car hand him a yellow form, he passed.)

“How does it feel?” I asked my newly annointed driver on the way back from the test site in Garden City Park.

“It feels the same because you’re still in the car with me,” he said matter-of-factly. He had a point -- he'd had his permit for months and months, practicing with me or his dad in the passenger's seat every time. Naturally, he wanted to make an inaugural solo trip. I had to return to work for the rest of the afternoon, so his First Drive had to wait until dinnertime.

When I got home, I handed him the car key.

And opened up to him a whole new world.

I made him promise to text me when he arrived at Chipotle. I was never so happy he had a cell phone. Instead, he called. “I made it,” he said happily.

I told him call me again when he was leaving, so I could count the minutes between then and when I calculated he should be walking in the door.

This is my next era in parenting. The Terrifying Years. The years when I worry not only about my son driving a car, but about him getting into the car with his friends. When they want to give him a ride home from school.  When they want to grab a burrito. When they want to go out to the movies.

Give me strength.

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