Thursday, August 26, 2010

Coming of Age, Automotive Edition

When your first child is autistic, you miss out on some milestones as they roll around. Nate doesn't drive, and shouldn't drive, based on the way he plays Burnout and Need for Speed. That boy takes too much pleasure in cracking up cars.

Yesterday, I was supposed to head up to Boston for the Red Sox game, but a 60% chance of rain coupled with thunderstorms made me reconsider a 9 hour round trip for a rainout. (The weather held off and the BoSox played a double-header instead). By staying home, I got to take Robbie for his road test. Actually, four of us loaded into the Land Cruiser and took him to Oneonta.

Karen and Nate headed to a coffee shop and I waited with Rob. His early nerves had faded and he was raring to go. There was a girl ahead of us and she rode off with the test administrator for a long time. Rob and I talked and a Cooperstown friend of his pulled up. His test was soon after Rob's.

One way to lessen the tension was Rob's constant referring to my first driving test, my failed driving test. I was doing OK until I made a right turn in front of an oncoming car.

"You know you just cut that guy off," the proctor said sternly.

Of course I talked back. I was 17 and that's what I did. Bad form. I didn't understand who had the power back then.

"I didn't cut him off; I had plenty of room."

"Take it back," he ordered. Not "take back what you said," but "drive this car back because your test is over." So, all morning, Robbie kept saying at the slightest provocation, "Take it back."

When Rob went off for his test, I talked to our Cooperstown friends. It seemed like a flash that he was back. Uh oh, that was much shorter than that girl's test. And, he pulled up on the opposite side of the street. These are the signs of failure.

The woman who tested Rob got out of the car. Her face was severe, no emotion. I'd noticed that earlier. It's to be expected, getting in car after car with people who haven't yet proven they can drive. That's taking your life in your hands every workday.

She gave me a look and a thin smile. It was OK. He passed. And he really passed - not one point taken off.

Now we have a son who can drive. I'm not worried about him at all; it's all good. Now he can order at the drive-thru (and he did at Taco Bell soon after). Better yet, I can get more sleep as he carts me around.

This transition to adult children is working out very well, I must say.

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