The other night our 16 year old daughter wanted to go to her high school football team’s away game.  The school is about 70 miles distant and getting there and home would require navigating unfamiliar areas during rush hour plus lots of night driving.

She’s been driving about 9 months.

We, with hearts in our throats, agreed with the stipulation that she be home by midnight.  We figured this was about right for the game ending around 10pm, the possibility of getting something to eat with some friends and the 70 mile night time drive home..

She did fine, arriving home at about 11:50pm and she seemed excited.  So, maybe she was a bit nervous as well.

Most folks understood our decision and some thought we were nuts.  Our feeling is that she needs to be able to test her wings and that it’s better to test them slowly at home than all at once in college.

When I was learning to drive, my grandfather, born in the late 1880s, told me stories about teaching my mom how to drive. He said the teaching part was easy (she was a quick learner) while the social aspects were much more difficult.

“You can’t teach her to drive.  It’s too much stress.  It will interfere with her ability to have a family.”

“Women lack the ability to make the quick decisions that are needed when driving a car.”

“She won’t have the strength”

My grandfather ignored them all and taught her how to drive a Model T car.  He had many stories about Model T cars.  They were amusing “they called that a car?” and not “I had it so tough” stories.  Manual chokes, manual spark advance, backing up hills when the fuel level was too low, crank starting, shifting gears, clogged fuel filters, vapor lock and more..  Mom had to learn it all.

Besides operating the car, my grandfather said she also had to show him (by dealing with them) she could fix a flat tire and deal with the various other car issues that would come up back then.  To this day I remember his comment, “…standing along side the road, crying, waiting for a man to rescue her..will not do…I will not have my daughter needing to do that…”

Of course, none of the dire predictions came true.  She graduated college, became an organic chemist and a US Navy officer, met my dad, got married, had two sons, was a midwife and later a nurse practitioner and was married 60 years.

My grandfather was ahead of his time, I hope I can do as well for our daughter as my grandfather did for my mom.


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