houston, we have a driver

dol-feb09Ta-da: Kristina became a rated driver yesterday, passing her Washington state driver’s road test.

And there was much rejoicing.

In the time since getting her permit, Kristina has attended state-mandated classes, gone on drives with a certified instructor, observed (from the backseat) drives with other students at the wheel, and participated in a collison avoidance safety course.

She needed to log at least 50 hours of practice driving, 10 of which had to be at night – she drove many more hours than that with Ed and/or me, including some time getting a feel for snow in the parking lot of an abandoned Kmart.

This is a real milestone – for her and for us.  It is good that it takes many months to get to this point – that time helped us evolve to a readiness, an acceptance of this new role for Kristina.  It is similar to the duration of a pregnancy – if we learned i was pregnant, and i gave birth the next day, it would be well beyond shocking.

Kristina is a good driver.  And we recognise that a good driver is not the same as an experienced driver.  The next 1,000 miles she drives will go a long way to shaping her driving habits for life. 

She has a good foundation so far: she is calm when she drives, she pays attention to what is going on around and ahead of her, she talks about what she is doing, she asks questions, she knows she’s still learning.  She’ll be paying for the part of the insurance rate increase out of money she earned working as a lifeguard last summer.

Kristina has earned this, and the responsibility that goes with it.

Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage, one of the few that marks the transition to adulthood in western culture.  Kristina is becoming more mature and responsible all the time.  It is too easy for me to look at her and see the toddler she used to be.  Having a ritual helps remind me that things are changing.

Being there to see the grin on her face as she walked back into the DoL — waving her high-scoring test sheet and jingling the keys to the car — made it hard to swallow for a moment.  I flashed her my own big grin.

I haven’t yet had the experience of watching her drive off – i’m sure that will be bittersweet.  We have to call and add her to our insurance first.  Yesterday i drove her to Starbucks to meet a friend.  On the way, i asked her if she felt any fear about driving off by herself for the first time.  Her answer:

Actually, i think i will feel more liberated than afraid.

Yep, that’s my girl.


listening to: Redwalls, Hung Up on the Way I’m Feeling

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