In South Africa kids have to be 18 before they can get a driver’s permit. And even if they get it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can drive, it merely means that they passed an assessment that tested their ability to parallel park without any other cars present, not stalling the vehicle and keeping the car on the road at the required legal speed. This test doesn’t teach them the subtle nuances of driving that a person acquire over many years.
The important driving skills like how to flick a bird at the stupid driver who cuts you off and which are the appropriate swear words to use when the driver in the fast lane is either looking for parking or just simply prefers to drive at the speed of a dying snail. Not to mention the important ability of selecting a great playlist in preparation for a road trip.
Irrespective of what Dude may know or doesn’t know about driving, he still managed to pass the test last week on his first attempt, and no-one was more
surprised proud than his dad. He is now a legal driver on the roads of the world because contrary to popular belief, a South African driver’s permit does allows you to drive ANYWHERE you want to. Except on the pavement. The problem with this newfound ability and sense of freedom is that even though he has the legal document to operate a motor vehicle, he is yet to own said motor vehicle.
Now just calm down and here me out before you start blaming me for not providing the child with a car. The reality of him reaching the legal age for driving in South Africa came at me faster than Superman when he hears Lois is in trouble. And then the actual date for the test came even faster. I’m not stupid, I knew he was going for his license, I was the one who had to pay some poor driving instructor who had to sit through the terror and anxiety of teaching him how to drive. We did the basics but due to the fact that an instructor who leaves claw marks on the dashboard and has difficulty in releasing blood-curdling screams every three minutes should rather quit whilst he is ahead. Which is what I did. And then I got a professional. And it worked.
Back to the fact that I have a serious problem excepting Dude is growing up. Wait. What? Yes I do. I have a really hard time accepting that the Dude will be leaving the house at the end of the year. There are so many things happening, very quickly. He calls these achievements milestones and I call them landmark heartaches. It’s just easier to ignore them, to be like an ostrich with its head in the sand. Avoid the inevitable. I’m trying to ignore how much I am going to miss that damn kid when he’s gone.
Hence my reluctance in getting him a car. I’m a selfish bastard. I feel like me giving him a car is just me giving him permission to spread his wings a little more, to explore a little further, to be just that little bit more independent. I’m giving him permission to go and live his life with less of me in it. And that is probably one of the toughest things a parent will have to do in their entire life.
For the moment he is basically taking over driving duties in our house. If someone even hints about going somewhere he volunteers to drive. It’s weird to be the passenger because I still see my boy behind the steering wheel, not the young man who is chatting, listening to music and having the time of his life, as he is Driving Mr Daisy.
But don’t worry, I’ve agreed to go car shopping this weekend. Under duress of course.