Teen Thursday - License to Drive

No, not the classic eighties movie starring the two Coreys (although, that could be awesome). But rather, I'd love to talk about actual teen tales from behind the wheel.

Driving is a major rite of passage for a teen, right? When I was reading Girl, Stolen yesterday, of the various challenges that Cheyenne's blindness poses for her, the fact that she can't drive is one that stands out - both for Cheyenne, and for me as a reader. Being blinded (in a car accident, ironically) at age fifteen means that Cheyenne will never experience driving as a sighted person, something that she has trouble making peace with. I can't blame her. For a teenager, driving equals freedom, and Cheyenne's independence has already been stripped away since losing her sight. Not being able to drive is just one more example of insult added to her (literal) injury.

Full disclosure: when I was a teen, I was a TERRIBLE driver. I mean, awful. I was the first of my group of friends to get my license, and lucky enough to get a car at the same time, so of course, I became our "wheels." I was all too happy to take on that role.

Behind the wheel, I was fearless. I truly believed I was immortal and as such, made a habit of driving recklessly. I was big at speeding, and I actually had a few car accidents during my high school/college years (thank goodness, I was alone during those crashes, and no one was hurt. I'd never forgive myself if I'd injured anyone). In fact, I totaled the car my father had given me for my 17th birthday - just days before I was due to hand it over to my younger brother. To this day I feel awful for robbing him of his chance to be his high school "wheel guy."

After crashing my car, I finally wised up. Once the car was gone, the consequences of my irresponsible behavior were all too obvious. We didn't have money to buy me a new one, so I made do. And thought a lot about why I'd so blatantly disregarded basic issues of safety - what was it about being young, in my car, that made me feel so invincible?

The next time I had a car of my own, I was a college graduate commuting to and from my job at a NJ newspaper. Getting behind the wheel, I was nervous (living through a major wreck will do that to you). These days, I drive like a little old lady - cautious, slow, and steady, on high alert. But I'm fine with that.

So what I'd love to hear from you teen readers is: what have your experiences been behind the wheel? Are you the "wheel guy?" Are your parents strict about driving? Where do you and your friends go? In Kody Keplinger's The Duff, Bianca's friends sometimes do the classic "cruise." My group and I were way too uptight to drive around aimlessly - we went to the diner, or the mall. If I had it all to do over again, I don't think I'd change that (I seriously loved that diner. Awesome cheese fries).

But I'd definitely be a more responsible driver.


Lisa Schroeder said...

I wasn't a wild driver, but I definitely didn't feel afraid, which is so different from my own 16 YO son. He is SO afraid, he really has no interest in driving.

We cruised a lot. We went to the drive-in. We went to parties. When the weekend came around, we were out, driving around, finding the fun, basically.

Micol Ostow said...

I think I'll be relieved if my kids aren't interested in driving. After my own experiences, I'm terrified of new drivers.

I love that you went to the drive-in! I've never been.

Claire Dawn said...

I wasn't a big drinker, so I was the designated driver in college. Wheels aren't so neccesary in school days in Barbados.

Micol Ostow said...

You're so lucky, Claire! I grew up in the 'burbs and wheels were necessary to get ANYWHERE - even just to a friend's house (since I went to private school, hardly any of my friends from school lived near me the way they would at a public school). My poor parents lost years of their lives as chauffeurs!

JenPick said...

I was the Wheels of my friends. We used to have a "Girls' Night Out" every Friday. Usually four of us, but sometimes we'd see people we knew and everyone would cram inside the car, sitting on laps (so safe, I know...)

Once, a friend and I opened a map in the school library, closed our eyes and pointed to a place we should go. So off we went.

After driving aimlessly up and down the road where the town was supposed to be, we finally stopped and asked for directions. Turns out our map was way old, the town didn't even exist anymore. We bought candy at the store and took pics, posing by hay bails.

Still one of the best road trips ever.

Micol Ostow said...

I LOVE that idea - picking a location on a map, even if the map is outdated. As long as you're safe, and smart, why not have an adventure?!

(True confessions: I've always wanted to go on a for-real road trip!)

brave chickens said...

I'm still on my learners permit, but I know that I'll be getting a car as soon as I have my probationary driver's permit. My parents aren't too worried about me driving. They know I'm responsible. And...they won't need to take me everywhere, so it's a load off them as well.

Also, I suppose since I'll be the first amongst my group of friends to have a car first, that I'll be the 'wheels'. But the thing that kinda sucks (or not) is that the road rules say that young drivers on ther probationary permit can't have more than one 'peer passenger' (aged 16-24 I think). No big group outings :(

JenPick: I really like that idea!

Micol Ostow said...

Yes, I do think it must be nice for parents not to have to shuttle kids around. Maybe that's the trade-off of the potential worry factor.

Melissa Walker said...

I'm still the "Wheel Girl." I have a lot of nervous-driver friends, but I love it, so I'm always jumping behind the wheel, no matter whose car it is. It's one thing I'm really proud of/confident about. I'm a GREAT driver!

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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