Opinion

A licence for change

Sometimes you don’t recognize life-altering changes in your life until you think about it for a little while.

I mean there’s the obvious ones like weddings, births, deaths and graduations that signal a real change in your life but even then the real ramifications don’t often hit you until much later when you’ve had time to digest them for awhile.

Anyway, I knew my oldest son was going for his driving road test on Thursday to get his ‘N.’ If you’re new to this process it now takes a year of driving with an ‘L,’ or learner’s licence, with a ton of restrictions including driving with a parent or instructor etc, before you can go for your ‘N.’

And then you can finally drive by yourself, and take family members and/or one friend along with you, for the next two years as a New driver, and then, apparently it’s time for another road test to get your real licence.

It’s truly mind-boggling to think what took me two weeks to achieve back in 1976, a regular driver’s license, now takes three years to acquire. I’m sure it’s made our roads safer but it seems, like a lot of things these days, way too extreme and unfair – and all in the name of safety.

But I digress. Anyway, I knew he was nervous, a pretty big day in anybody’s life, but I wished him well and left him in Bob’s hands and was pretty confident he was going to be fine, with a little parental anxiety mixed in.

He phoned me that afternoon to share the good news and I could tell he was more than a little relieved it was over and a successful outcome was achieved. He readily told me about his one mistake and how he thought it would cost him dearly but how everything worked out fine in the end. There was probably as much relief over passing the actual test as there was not having to be the brunt of razzing from his buddies if he hadn’t. High school hasn’t changed much after all.

He joked now all he needed was a car but we both know that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Besides he has his mother’s car to drive and one day I’ll get more insurance on my truck so he can drive that too but I haven’t quite got down there to do that yet. One day soon, though, I’m pretty sure.

Anyway I was proud of him and relieved and started to think of the possibilities of how this may change my, and his, life but it didn’t really hit me until about 5:20 that evening.

As I was rushing around to get changed after work and checking on dinner, with my wife’s help of course, I knew the younger son’s football practice was about to end and I would have to rush out and pick him up and......the phone rang.

Apparently practice ended early and he needed a ride now, but it was like the ring set an alarm off in my head that for some strange reason I hadn’t thought of yet (either force of habit or sheer stupidity on my part, I’ll let you decide).

OMG, his brother can pick him up. Like, without me going along, and everything. And it’s a chore he won’t whine about, at least for the foreseeable future.

It was like I’d won the lottery. Well, at least a scratch ticket for more than $2. My wife and I had a glass of wine to toast a newfound sense of freedom.

Of course I worried a little bit until he drove back into the driveway, with the car and his little brother intact and unharmed, although the younger one feigned an injury upon entering the house, funny guy that he is.

And what about the school dance that night? Well, yes, the big bro can take the little bro, meaning I don’t have to go, like at the beginning at 7:30 or the end at 10 p.m. Another glass of wine is in order.

Plus hockey season begins in earnest next week with the advent of 6 a.m. practices and everything. Guess who doesn’t have to get up at 5:10 a.m. anymore after nine winters of doing just that? And if you answered my wife, you’d be wrong.

Yes, life is good. Sure we have to worry about a rookie driver on the road, and that’s a different kind of job than actual chauffeuring but a job nonetheless. And I know I may be driving some snowy winter mornings still, but it also dawned on me Thursday night about my role in life as I was kind of the go-to guy in the family when it came to rides anywhere (I don’t cook that much).

Do I still have a role in this family? Do they still need me? Is this a sign of things to come as they become even more independent? Just how life-altering was this day going to turn out to be?

Aw, I’ll worry about that tomorrow. Another glass of wine, honey?

– Glenn Mitchell is the managing editor of The Morning Star. He write a weekly column for the newspaper.

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