November 3, 2009

{Following the Red Car, Looking in the Rear View Mirror, and Seeing Myself in My Daughter}

It started on Sunday, November 1, 2009. Raka took her driving test... and passed. That evening she got all the papers ready for us to go to the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles the next day to get her first driver’s license. I had kept my Monday afternoon open so I could take her, but late Sunday, Raka had an idea that she thought was brilliant. The DMV opens at 7:00am. If we got there by 6:55am, we would be  first in line and she could get her driver’s license before school started at 7:45am. I simply raised my eyebrows and we decided to stay with our after school plan.

At 3:15 PM on Monday, November 2, 2009, I picked Raka up from school and we headed to the DMV. In less than half an hour, Raka had her driver’s license in hand. After we came home, we added Raka to the insurance. She could officially and legally drive.

But, what happens next? I was not sure if Raka should start driving immediately , so I called Raka’s mom.  Based on her mom's confidence and Raka’s enthusiasm, I overcame my own hesitations and agreed that Raka could drive to and from school and also to her music and math tutor’s place.

But the dad in me still was not 100% ready. I kept thinking about September 14th, 1993, when I realized for the first time that the back seat would never be empty again. When did my little girl leave the back seat for the passenger seat, then for the driver's seat in her own red car? Why does life move so fast? Shouldn't sixteen years should at least feel like sixteen years?

As all these thoughts were going in my mind, I came up with a plan: we do a trial run. In the trial run, Raka will drive on her own to each of her approved destinations as I follow. That way she has a clear “road map” on how to negotiate traffic. Raka loved the idea. In fact, she would have loved any idea that got her closer to driving. So we started.

There were some initial hiccups as she drove to the first destination, it was, after all, her first time driving a car alone. When she got to the first destination, she pulled over and I walked to her car and we talked. The excitement in her young face was now enveloped with seriousness. She was worried to hear her feedback. I told her that I was proud of her, but the mistakes she made, and got away with, were serious. She nodded her head.

The journey to the second destination through the evening traffic was long. Raka was in her groove. There were some traffic situations which Raka patiently negotiated. I followed in admiration. Finally Raka pulled into the driveway of her mom’s home and we talked again. She did great. We talked about cautious left turns and avoiding unnecessary lane changes.

As I drove home, I was happy that I got to see Raka drive alone for the first time, but just like any dad I was worried. Why does she have to be so impatient? Why does she have to do things “now”? As I asked all these questions, I looked at the rear view mirror. The back seat was empty. The passenger seat to my right was empty. I adjusted the rear view mirror and caught a glimpse of myself in the process, and realized the answers to my questions. I have no patience DNA myself.

Isn’t it uncanny, how our children follow what we do and not what we tell them to do? I guess that means it's my turn to be patient.
{Following the Red Car, Looking in the Rear View Mirror, and Seeing Myself in My Daughter}SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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