Passionate About Providence
and the Moms Who Live Here

The Permithood

Baby you can drive my car                                                                                                                                                              Yes I’m gonna be a star                                                                                                                                                                  Baby you can drive my car                                                                                                                                                                     And maybe I love you                          

–The Beatles

 

Watch it watch it watch it watch–OH MY GAHD, J. OHHH NOOOO!

It sounded like the tire had to have been blown out and possibly the axle snapped. Boychild was duly horrified.

“Ohhh wow. Mom! I couldn’t avoid it!”

No, it’s not your fault–I don’t know how you could have avoided it.

“I could not have avoided it! I would have hit something.”

Yes, it’s not your fault. Now slow down—the speed limit is 25, and there are more potholes coming—it’s a mess.

It might have been a mild winter, but it was a brutal pothole season in the Ocean State. Last month, my son hit a gaping sinkhole on Blackstone Boulevard. It was a dramatic, loud event, even without all of the yelling.

Teenage boy driving car Providence Moms BlogWe arrived home to find that the front right wheel was now without a hubcap, had a bent rim, and was lucky to still have an intact tire. I can’t complain–I  hit a pothole myself, at this time last year, and damaged the same wheel. But still, I suspect that this is the first of a long line of minor damages that await me (at least that’s what I tell myself—that they’ll just be minor damages). Because I am now in the thick of what my friend Kim calls The Permithood.

The Permithood needs no definition. You know what it is. If you are a parent of a licensed driver, you have survived it. You might now be in the throes of it–and if you have not yet experienced it? Don’t worry, it’s coming for you.     

After the Unfortunate Pothole Incident, I did what every 21st Century parent does—I posted something about it on Facebook. And along with laughs and likes, the confessions started rolling in (some in the comments, some privately). Names have been changed to protect the not-all-that innocent.

First one friend, then the next. Then it was a chorus of permit learning-curve recounting. Like the gang of hysterical girls from The Crucible.

I saw Goody Jimmy shoot out of a parking lot without stopping! When I asked him why he didn’t stop, he said, “Because there wasn’t a stop sign.”

I saw Goody Andrew shoot forward instead of backward (while looking backward) and take out the main support beam in the middle of our garage!

I saw Goody Lily drive INTO the garage without first opening the door!

I saw Goody Matt put it into Drive instead of Reverse and hit our other car in the driveway. We had to make insurance claims on both of our cars!

teenager driving car Providence Moms Blog

Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels

The Shooting Forward Instead of the Intended Backward (or vice versa) seems to be a Permithood theme. And indeed, Goody Boychild did this very thing a couple of days later, almost slamming into a Tesla in the Whole Foods parking lot. This happened just moments after a mini-lecture from me about Parking Lots and Overconfidence and Things that Appear Behind You. He has also run several stop signs, two red lights, and has made intimate friends with the curb while street parking. Nonetheless, he persists, and he is getting to be a very good city driver.  

I thought for sure that I was going to be the Cool Parent, or at least the Relatively Cooler Parent, during this too-short period. But by all accounts, The Dad has been way more chill in the car than I ever am and doesn’t coach Boychild incessantly, but just lets him drive. I don’t believe this. I think that whichever parent is not currently in the car is the more chill parent. I AM THE MORE CHILL PARENT!

But I digress. All humor aside, we share the awareness that driving is such serious business (wow, was that my Grandpa talking just now?). When I was sixteen, I was a passenger in a DUI collision with (thankfully mild) injuries. A few years later, during college, I lost my dearest friend to a DUI driver. My husband had a similar experience, having to come home from college to be a pallbearer for his close friend. Texting (which includes “looking at one’s phone,” changing the music, any sort of touching the damned thing) is this generation’s DUI.

And this is the low-hanging fruit–there’s still just regular situations, due to their still-developing frontal lobes, and the many, many morons on these RI roads (we’re not known as the 2nd worst drivers in the US for nothing). The only way to get better at driving is to be more experienced, and the only way to achieve that is more driving. I am not going to come out of this with my sanity intact.

Assuming that he passes the road test and doesn’t fall for the much-rumored, you put the car into Drive without asking if the testing official’s seatbelt was buckled trick, The Permithood will come to an end. Whether I’m ready for it or not–and I’m not. I’m having trouble imagining that I’ll ever be free of worry when he’s out there behind the wheel. 


Update: Since this was written, the husband has since lost not just a hubcap, but an entire TIRE, on that same stretch of the Boulevard; the Boychild, after one canceled appointment (the day of the snowless snow cancellations) has taken and passed his road test and is a licensed driver. His maiden voyage was to pick up his friend and head straight to their favorite empanada destination.

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