Licensed to drive. 16 and licensed to become independent. My son facebook’d that simple phrase at 3:30 pm yesterday from the Santa Monica DMV. He passed his drivers test and I nearly passed out. First off, we were using my nanny’s car and she arrived 30 seconds before our appointment time because she was getting her car fixed. Not a feeling of confidence for the safety of her car, I must admit. Note to self; check the bloody nanny-mobile before kids get in it rather than after a year! Then it was the simple act of dealing with a government office that made my heart race. You always feel like you’re gonna get it wrong or worse, done something illegal; I check out the officers in the room and feel their eyes on me, like they know I ran that last stop sign or don’t have my registration sticker. My hormones weren’t helping me and I tried so hard to remain calm and smiley. “You’re going to do great. The DMV makes money off of you becoming a driver…they want you to do well….” I said reassuringly to my son. But I was so nervous. In fact I was too nervous, which told me it was more about the moment in front of us rather than whether he would pass.
I remember the day I got my license. I drove to the top of Greystone Mansion parking lot that overlooked the city of angels and thought to myself ‘I can be anything, go anywhere’. And with that, I drove straight down Sunset Boulevard with The Police tape playing in the stereo all the way to the beach and put my feet in the water. Why? Because I could. And now, here I am all these years later. I cried at the DMV. My son was pretty mortified but he too was flushed and full of emotion. It’s a moment for sure in the life of an LA teenager. My British friends think it’s completely insane to let a 16 year old drive, the same way I think it’s insane to let a 16 year old drink. Good thing the 16 year olds can’t do both in the same country!
I’ve been panicking these last few weeks about each of the boys growing up and moving out. It’s not entirely rational because I still have two and a half years before my eldest is off to college. It could be that I’ve spent a lot of time recently looking through old photographs. They were so small and each photo brings all of the sentiment behind the camera to the front of my heart, all over again. And now I have two sons who are taller than me. At 5’4 it happens quicker than I’d like, but looking up into their eyes is a strange wonderment.
I’m having a hard time navigating the snoopy vs good parenting issue with my sons social lives. The ‘they sayers’ tell us to know everything, have access to all social media, phones, up until high school (secondary school). That it’s our responsibility as parents to do so for all the right reasons. But I would like to add another point; boys don’t talk. All the girl mom equivalents to my boys know so much more than I do. They know who likes whom; who is cheeky and who is pleasant; who is racy and whose parents are insane. They seem to have the whole thing figured out because most girls talk. My eldest was in a band of teenagers – four boys and one girl. Every time we wanted to know what was really going on we asked the girl mom because none of the boy moms knew a morsel of descent information.
I don’t want to snoop and I don’t want to force my boys into awkward conversations, but come on…I get nothing from the eldest, strange and inconsistent questions from the second; strategic answers from the third and the little one tells me everything but changes the entire story mid way through so I can’t believe any of it. (Currently five girls have a crush on him yet at the same time, all the kids in his class hate him – both stories told last night).
I want information. I want gossip. I want to know more than my instincts tell me because I don’t get to meet and greet most of the teenagers in my teenagers’ lives. I want to know how they are feeling, what they are thinking, if their heart aches. I realize that I am acutely aware of how they are just by looking at them, but I still want details! One of my sons has a higher emotional intelligence than I do – he has his own zone, his own way of seeing and dealing and feeling. But he too chooses not to talk. Husband isn’t worried about these things in the slightest. I tried voicing my concerns with him and watched as his eyes slowly glazed over. He answered my question of how men really deal with their emotions with the yawn that proceeded the glaze. He wasn’t being rude; he was being honest.