Shake it off

Dec. 17, 2021
by Andrew Meuleners

I've been trying to find a way to talk about this issue for quite some time. This is something that my family and I have been dealing with this past year.

It has to do with my oldest son. It's a little hard for me to talk about it because I get a bit emotional.

Well, here it goes. My oldest son got his driver's license.

There, I said it. It's out in the open. I feel like now I can have an open and honest conversation about this with you.

OK, I know this news is not earth-shattering, and that all around the world there are parents who are struggling with this very same issue. Yes, I said struggling. I am not having a hard time because I don’t trust the kid; he is extremely trustworthy to a fault. 

Not that I want to play my own psychologist, but I am sure it has a little to do with the simple fact that I have a child old enough to get his driver's license.

That fact alone has me thinking about my own mortality. What also has me thinking about my own mortality is the fact that for the last several months I have been letting him drive me around in a vehicle at speeds in excess of 55 miles per hour.

I have of course been a passenger in a car before. I didn’t blink an eye when I was younger and my friends and I would go out driving around. We made questionable choices and survived to tell the tale.

It seems though, when I got into the passenger seat and my baby boy got in the driver's seat something sort of shifted. Some cosmic disturbance happened and I suddenly knew that my life was never going to be the same.

I went in this fully thinking I was going to be the best instructor to my child. I was wrong. I went from being a pretty patient person to grasping the arm rest next to me and trying to apply a brake that was not there.

While I tried to and on most occasions successfully managed to stay calm. I also caught myself uttering on not less than seven occasions that what he just did could have killed us and that if he did that on the road test he would fail. I am not proud of that.

I know that when I was learning to drive I wasn’t perfect. I am fairly certain that I stopped too hard, hesitated too long, and failed to be observant to my surroundings.

Of course, it was very different when I was learning to drive. I was a farm kid. I was driving all sorts of vehicles when I was pretty young and when it came time to get my driver’s license, I got a farm permit and was driving way before many of my peers.

After months and months of preparation, 50 hours in total, 15 of which were at night. After all that time together, I am pretty sure I made the poor kid paranoid about having to take his road test.

I am sure after being told over and over to do this, don’t do that, make sure you do this – he was ready to just get it over with.

A couple weeks ago, we went to the DMV to have him take his road test. I was pretty confident that he was ready. When we got there though, he seemed a little bit too nervous.

It was a closed course and we had gone over all the things that could go wrong and again I was pretty confident that he would pull it out in the end.

So when the DMV guy came over and got into the vehicle and I saw them drive off. I was pretty sure I would be taking home a licensed driver by the end of the course. Ten minutes later, I learned that he failed.

My son of course was upset and just didn’t understand what happened.

While he was out on the course, I was with three other parents and we all saw our children do the same exact thing that failed them one right after another.

By now in my life I am pretty good with failure. I have been down that road before. I know how to handle disappointment but when it comes to your child. It just hits differently.

I know that my kids are going to have to learn to deal with disappointment and failure. I feel like my wife and I have tried to prepare our kids for how to deal with those emotions and situations.

If I am honest though, I know I would do anything to help them try to avoid having to feel those feelings. I know it is not possible and it is best to set them up to be able to deal with it themselves, to make them well-rounded individuals. But deep down I would prefer that they wouldn’t  have to go through that.

So he had to endure going back to school, telling everyone that he didn’t pass. Most of my friends were sympathetic, most likely because they know that it could easily happen to them in the coming months.

I made another appointment, this time at an open course.

He took the test and this time passed. It was the best feeling to see his smiling face and giving me a thumbs up showing me that he passed.

It was great to see his confidence back after feeling such agony the week before.

Life will throw you a curve ball sometimes and you’ll strike out. You need to learn how to shake it off because next time you might just hit a home run.

Advertise in over
250+ MN newspapers