Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Long and Scary Roads

***Occasionally I find it hysterical that the life-saving medicine stands next to the butter.***

We raise our children only to let them go. It is my job as a mom to teach my kids right from wrong, to try to do their best, be polite, put their dishes in the dishwasher and pick up after themselves. Hopefully, when they are adults (in some far, distant future, right?) they will have the tools they need to survive the world and the personality traits and social skills to help them succeed.

Back in the stone ages when I was in high school, driver's ed was taught as an in-school class. The football coach put us through our paces, both on the driving simulators and on asphalt. After a semester of training (plus a few extra parallel parking lessons with parents) we were supposed to be prepared to take our exam. I remember that my parents needed to hire a driving instructor in addition to what I learned in school because all our cars were stick shift, while at school they only taught automatic.

Driver's ed is no longer in our high schools, sadly. It was slashed from the budget long ago. Unfortunately for Daniel, there is no real convenient driving school around. Nothing he can walk to from high school, and his school bus doesn't get him home in time to make the class at the one closest to our house. Drivers ed, for Daniel, may have to wait until spring break or summer.

Now that Daniel is ready to get his learners permit, and as much as I could really use another driver in the house, I feel like an invisible force is peeling my protective fingers off his shoulders. The force is time itself, the future that arrives with each exhale. The heartbeat that drums, "let go, let go, let go." I remember how ready I was at 16 to get my driver's license and experience the heady feeling of freedom (even though it was my parent's vehicle and I lived in their house). At the same time I balk at the notion of Daniel behind the wheel. Even knowing he is a good kid, even though he doesn't take chances with his health, it's hard enough to entrust Daniel to the supposed caution of thousands of other drivers on the road without even adding his diabetes into the equation.

Hypoglycemia while driving is as dangerous as any drunk driver. It can rush in as quickly as a summer thunderstorm, it is more distracting than texting while steering. Even before Daniel was eligible to get his learners permit, I explained the importance of testing his blood sugar before putting the key in the ignition, and of keeping sugar easily accessible.

You see, even if I do a perfect job as a parent , if all the lessons are properly taught and absorbed, there's always a wild card, a monkey wrench that can set us spinning off course. Like a rock on the road the size of a cauliflower (that was this summer) or a diabetes diagnosis. That's life, I know, and I make peace with that, or try to, on a daily basis. But there is a part of me that will always grasp for control, and will always reach out to protect my children. That's the mom part of me. It's bone-deep and unstoppable.


Isophorone said...

I thought the drivers' ed instructor was a baseball coach, not football.

Good luck with the driving stuff. I remember you complaining about the need for the learner's permit and driver's license.

Are you going to have Daniel learn stick?

Cara said...

It's okay to be a mom! :D Driving is serious stuff for us diabetic. I never did test like I should before driving (or any other time really) until a few years ago. Luckily now I have CGMS, which makes it easier.
p.s. I had in-school driver's ed. :P I scared my driving partner to death I think. And my driver's ed teacher. Sigh.

Naomi said...

Hey Ron, I really thought it was the football guy. He growled.

We don't have a stick car anymore, so I guess Daniel won't learn that for now.

Cara, it's so great that you have the CGMS to help! I hope that one day it will be standard for all T1s. And I think all driver's ed teachers must be running a little scared. You couldn't pay me anything to do that job!!!

Isophorone said...

He growled, but he coached baseball. I looked it up (the baseball part, not the growling).