My son once asked me if I thought he’d “make a good driver someday.”
He asked with all the earnestness of a young boy driving what must have seemed to him to be a real car.
We were at Pennsylvania’s Hershey Park, and he was steering one of those jalopies that kids guide around a self-contained track.
You know the cars I’m talking about. They are fashioned after what people sputtered around in back in the day (think Henry Ford Model T’s). As I’m not much for thrill rides, bouncing around in those things is perfect for weak-hearted dads like me. Perfect, that is, until your oldest kid starts asking about driving for real.
That’s why I think theme parks should be required to post a sign or otherwise warn parents before they get into one of those things with their young children.
It should read:
WARNING! THESE JALOPIES MAY GIVE PARENTS HEARTBURN!
Such a sign is warranted in my view, mainly because those cars gave me my first taste of what it’s like to sit in the passenger seat with one of my kids behind the wheel. Hershey Park has plenty of roller coasters and other rides more than capable of turning my stomach, but I’d rather brave them than think about my oldest kid being old enough to legally hit the open road.
After he asked his question, I swallowed, took a deep breath and told him I thought he’d be good at anything he put his mind to. I even gave him an affectionate “atta boy” pat on the head while silently counting the years I had left before he put a license similar to mine in his wallet and my insurance premiums went up.
He must have been around 10-years-old when he asked whether he’d be a good driver. He’s had several birthdays since then and, although he hasn’t asked me that question lately, we’re about to find out the answer very soon.
My son is now 15.
And, since the state of West Virginia deems him ready to begin learning to drive, I figured he must be ready to be introduced to the joys of the state Division of Motor Vehicles. I took him to Berkeley County’s new DMV office on his birthday this week to fetch a Driver’s Licensing handbook.
“Welcome to the DMV,” I told him when he balked after beholding the long line for the first time.
Actually, I’m lying. While my son really did balk, the line wasn’t that long. We even got the handbook in fairly short order and were on our way home in relative good humor.
That handbook is now sitting on our coffee table. It’s a constant reminder of what I’m in for, and not just with our son. Our daughter will all too quickly follow on his heels.
And, while my son is not yet paying much attention to it, I know for a fact he’s got the car keys on his mind. And the first time he uses them with me in the passenger seat again, those roller coasters at Hershey Park are going to start looking pretty good.