Not always knowing best

I was busy all morning and it wasn’t until 1:15 that I remembered that son #3, who had turned 16 two days ago, had extracted the promise from me that I would take him to DMV to take the written test to get his learner’s permit. I went upstairs and found him still in bed. I woke him up reminding him that I thought he wanted to go to DMV. He concurred sleepily. I pointed out that they only issue the test between certain hours, so we had probably better get moving, especially as I had to retrieve his sister from a horse barn at 3. He made tea, took a bowl of leftover French toast in his lap, all the while clutching the Driving Rules manual and asking me if I thought he would need to know this and that. I turned to him and asked, “Did you look at it over the weekend?” ” No,” he answered. “Except for when you helped me do that one chapter.” I was astonished, and stated that I had suggested that he read Chapters 4-11 as those were apparently what he was going to be tested on. He shrugged, and muttered something about how he didnt remember me saying that, to which I got defensive and said,”Yes, I did, I am sure I said that.” I asked him if he might rather wait to go until he had studied. He said,”no, I want to go”

This is the same boy who learned to read very late due to a vision issue…he is only now near the end of remedial reading help, and reading quite well, but still not for pleasure. So for him, reading that manual was too odious, even though it was full of little road signs and diagrammed intersections. So we drove along to DMV, me fuming with the indignation of driving such an unprepared child to a driving test. Each of his two older brothers had read the entire manual and still missed 2 or 3 questions each. To top it all off, he had not filled in the application form which I had brought home on purpose so he could spend days filling it out if that’s what it took. I was trying to look out for his best interests. But no, now we were in a huge rush, and I realized that I would have to fill it out while he walked up to the window to deal with the rest of the process or we would never be able to submit it by 3pm which was the deadline for taking the test. The DMV was surprisingly empty. My son quickly had his picture taken, and was issued a test and sent in to the test-taking room. I said good-bye so I could go pick up his sister.

35 minutes later, I returned, and he gave me the thumbs up and said that all we had to do now was pay. ” You’re kidding!” , I said, and then, “that’s not fair”. I thought to myself, ” Where were ‘natural consequences’ when you need them??

I took him and his sister for icecream, and he drove the standard car home the last stretch down our country road, backing it perfectly into the steep and curved driveway. I spent the rest of the evening wondering about exactly what he could actually do if set his mind to it.

To the other parents out there: I am fully aware that my moment for natural consequences was when we arrived at the office with the unfilled out application form…as I could have (should have?) left him then with the form to fill out on his own and he probably would have missed the 3pm deadline. but the lady might have been nice, or maybe they make exceptions of you have begun the process, and lastly, I didn’t relish the idea of having to make the trip again. Plus, he helps me when I ask, so I help him.