So, TINS, TIWFDASL….well, OK, really, this is another child rearing tale. Our oldest son, Adam, was approaching middle teen years, and, in The Unnamed Flyover State (TUFS), that meant anticipating driver’s education, preparatory to acquiring a driver’s license. At that time, the child in question had to be around 15 years of age, so, shortly after Adam’s fourteenth birthday, I sat him down for a little chat.
“So, Adam, you starting to get excited about taking driver’s ed?”
“Yep! I really can hardly wait!”
“Outstanding! Now, you do realize that, here in TUFS, you aren’t required to get my signature in order to take driver’s ed, or to get your license, right?”
He responded with a blank look. “Huh? All the kids in my class say that your parents have to sign for you to take driver’s ed, or to drive!”
“Well, they are mistaken. You do not require my signature in order to drive, or in order to take driver’s ed!”
He reflected upon this for a moment, and his face brightened. “Oh, yeah, right! I’ll just get Mom to sign!”
I sat back. “Say, I have an idea! How about you go talk to your mother, and ask her about that idea! Let’s say, for some reason, that I refuse to sign for driver’s ed, or for you to drive, ask her what her next move might be! Come on right back, and let me know what she says, OK?”
He scampered off. From another part of th house, I overheard low pitched murmurs, as of distant conversation. The murmurs ceased, and Adam made his reappearance.
“So, tell me about that ‘no signature’ thing, please, Dad.”
That told me how his conversation with his mother had gone. He had said something along the lines of “Mom, if Dad won’t sign for me to take driver’s ed or to drive, will you?” Her response had likely gone along the lines of “Have you lost your fucking mind? What makes you think your dad and I would not be on the same page regarding something like that?”
So, I answered him. “Well, Adam, in the Great and Sovereign State of TUFS, you do not require a parent’s signature in order to take driver’s ed, nor in order to drive!”
“Dad, that can’t be right! All the kids in my grade tell me that you need a signature!”
“Well, they are all wrong. Indeed, here in TUFS, you can get your driver’s license, you can take driver’s ed, without my signature, or you mother’s. Why, once you are eighteen, it is all very simple! You simply sign for yourself!”
He looked thoughtful for a moment. “But, Dad, why would I want to wait until I was eighteen to drive?”
Now, I looked thoughtful, for a second. “Adam, that is an excellent question! I am confident that your behavior between now and then will demonstrate the answer you came up with!”
So, fast forward several years. I had had this same conversation with Betty, Number Two child. She had taken, and passed driver’s ed, and acquired her license. She was driving whenever she could wheedle the loan of a car from her mother or me. She was also, as an adolescent girl, not entirely meeting behavioral standards.
Her mother TDW-Mark 1, and I, considered her transgressions, and intervened when needful. When behavior did not improve, we physically took her license, and secured it. After the “license grounding” had elapsed, she, again, could drive. More misbehavior, more license grounding.
Finally, she had demonstrated sufficient lack of grasp of acceptable behavioral standards, that we were done grounding her from driving. TDW-Mark 1 and I held a conference, featuring Betty. I reviewed past interventions.
“Betty, you did (whatever), and had been told not to. We took your license for a week, and told you that another violation would result in us taking your license for two weeks. You violated (whatever the rule in question was), again, and so we took your license for two weeks, and told you that the next time would be a month. Again, you violated (rule), and we took your license, and told you that the next time, we would simply yank your license and stop screwing around with this stuff. Well, last night you did, again, violate (rule), and so, now, your mother, and I, and you, are going to the motor vehicle office, and you are going to lose your license.”
She responded, “Well, I will just go there tomorrow, and get it back!”
I smiled at the sixteen year old. “I do not think that it works that way, Honey!”
She looked at me, and brought me up to speed (or, so she thought). “All the kids at school tell me that I can, and I just will!”
I produced her license from my pocket. “See this name here, at the bottom? Where it says Director of Department of Motor Vehicles? Read that name, please, Honey. The print is a little small for my old eyes!”
She read, “’Alyssa, M. Snodgrass’ Why do I care about that?”
“So, sweetie, which one of your classes is she in with you?”
“Huh? Nobody in any of my classes has a name like that!”
I looked at TDW Mark 1, and she looked at me. We then turned our gaze to our darling daughter. The TDW Mark 1 carried the ball. “Well, Betty, that is indeed a surprise! Since Ms. Snodgrass is the director of the department of motor vehicles, and is charged with writing, and enforcing, the rules for who gets, and who loses, a license to drive, perhaps she knows just a teensy, weensy, little bit more about how all that stuff works, than your illiterate, self absorbed, ignorant, prideful, and arrogant classmates. Doncha think?”
Betty gaped at her. Her mother smiled, serenely. “So, honey? Get your shoes, and let’s go. Now, Honey, now!”
With that, our little gaggle promenaded into the DMV office. Once our number had been called, we strolled up to the desk, and the civil servant asked, “What can I do for you?”
I smiled, my best won the jackpot smile, and proclaimed, “We are here to have this child,” and my sweeping wave indicated the glowering Betty beside me, “officially credentialed by the Great and Sovereign State of TUFS, as a pedestrian!”
The poor woman, only trying to get through her workday, looked at me blankly. After a second, she asked, “What?”
TDW Mark 1 clarified it for her. “We are here to yank this child’s license.”
“Oh, right. Please may I have the child’s license?”
I produce it. “And, your ID, please?”
We produced it.
Tap, tap, tap went the keyboard. Our new friend, the DMV Lady, then snipped off one of the corners of Betty’s license, and, looking up, asked, “Do you want this back?”
I looked at TDW Mark 1, and Betty. TDW Mark 1 looked back at me, and smiled at the DMV Lady. “Oh, yes, indeed, we want it back!” she exclaimed. “We’re gonna frame that bad boy, and hang it in the hallway, where all of us can admire it every day!”