I remember when I was fifteen. I did all I could to be ready to go when I came of age to get my little hands on my learner's permit, I think at age fifteen and a half. Then, for the next six months I was doing all I could to speed up time (kind of like Bobby Brady trying to make himself taller) so that I could become sixteen and get my driver's license.
Therefore, I assumed Riley would be the same way. Apparently, sometime between Madonna's heyday and Adele becoming the queen of iTunes, teens stopped longing to drive. I saw it with my little brother. He's twenty-one years my junior, and he didn't get his license until his twenties. I assumed he was just a freak of nature, but no.
Of Riley's friends, only one drives. So, I'm trying to figure out why, and I'm guessing maybe it has to do with smart phones. See, back in my teen days, we got in cars so we could be together, and hang out. Today, teens are hanging out on their phones, on their SnapChat, on their Vine, on their Instagram. They can access one another instantly via text and FaceTime. So, really, they don't need to get into a car to hang out like we did a million years ago.
Thing is, Riley and her girlfriends do like to spend time together doing things that their iPhones don't allow, like watching sunsets, going rock climbing, and eating Mexican food. That's where me and my wife and all of Riley's friends' parents come in. We have become their personal Uber Drivers.
Riley is constantly asking to be dropped off at this friend's house or picked up from some store. And, to be quite honest, it can be a pain. I come home from a long day of work. I take a shower, put on my pajama pants, a t-shirt and my slippers, and suddenly I get a text asking if I can pick up my teen and three of her friends from Chipotle and take them to Cara's house for a sleepover.
I gotta put on some real shoes, a pullover, and put Survivor on pause. Yes, I could have her taking the bus, but to be perfectly honest, I'd prefer knowing who their traveling with and it allows me to stay in touch with her and her friends.
Part of me wants her to get that license and allow me to watch Jeff Probst knowing I won't have to go out again. But, there's that part of me that's pleased that Riley's not driving yet, the part that knows she's safe on the road because I'm driving her and her friends, the part that always knows where she is because she relies on a parent to get her where she wants to go.
Am I proud of this? No. I'm the guy pushing Safety-Net Parenting, and I sound more like a Helicopter Dad, but at least I'm honest. I know she will drive one day. I am not holding her back, but I embrace the fact that she still needs her old man for some things, that I can at least see her when I'm shuttling her about, and that I can keep tabs on who her friends are.
image courtesy of ©MorgueFile.com/jkt_de