Get into the car and off of my couch...or the continued adventures of MidiMe.

For a person with control issues (which I admit I am ), letting your child grow up and do things like...drive...is a hard thing. And for a person with control issues mixed with a bit of Helicopter Mom, it's even harder.  I realize that since I really have no control over her growing, I could spend a lot of energy trying to hold her back by figuratively wrapping myself around her leg and dragging behind her on the floor, or I can put on my big girl panties and go forth into the world alongside her.

I did not want my MidiMe to drive. I don't know if it was because my father never let me drive while I lived at home, because I didn't want to pay the increased insurance premium, or because I knew in the back of my mind that if she had a car there's a pretty good chance that at several points during the day, I probably, most assuredly, won't know where she is and who she is with.

But I have exhaled. Since I'm not raising MidiMe in New York City and her social calendar is more full than mine is, I have sat back and watched as my child has obtained her driver's license. I will admit that I do not want to drive her to her two a day cheerleading practices or her parties and Starbucks' runs, so...she is driving herself. And I am proud of her. Most days.

Practice started yesterday and she took herself with no incident. Today she learned, though, that if you drive a car, you have to pay for gas. When we woke up this morning, my husband told her that she needed to put twenty dollars of gas in his hybrid car. (That is almost a full tank).
Her eyebrows shot towards the ceiling and her eyes welled up. "Huh?" she replied.
He spoke slowly. "Car-no-go-o with no-gas-o."
Sensing her panic, I volunteered to lead her to the gas station, and to stand by while she operated, but I would not do it for her.

We started out good....except--It took her a good 4 minutes to get the car out of the garage. My driveway goes up a steep hill then turns a corner. While I waited at the bottom, I sent Minime up to check. She came screaming down the hill. "She couldn't get the car to GO!"

It took everything I had not to run up the hill to her rescue. I held my breath, and held my breath and then finally, she came down the hill. Without my help.
 Huh.Imagine that.

She successfully followed me to the gas station, holding up her "talk to the hand" hand while she pulled up to the pump. I watched with my hands on her hips, her chorus of "I know, Mom, ringing in my head" from when I gave her verbal instructions on what to do.

She clearly listened when I told her that the little arrow in the car that points to the gas icon is meant to tell her which side the gas tank is on. She pulled to the correct side of the pump.

She listened not so well when I was telling her how to determine which pump she was at. She looked around like she was lost. I didn't say a word. Instead, I pointed up at the big number four overhead.

She was looking pitiful now. I tilted my head towards the building. "You got this? I need to get your sister to camp."

"Yes. I mean, No. Please stay, Mom." She was suddenly eight years old again. My heart melted.
I walked a few steps behind her as she went in to the gas attendant. Once inside, she turned to me "Mom, what are you doing here?"

"You said--" I was confused. Who was this Jekyll and Hyde in my daughter's body?

"I meant don't leave. But stay out there!" She pointed outside.
The attendant laughed, recognizing the situation.
We went back outside.

She clearly listened when I told her that the car took regular gas. She had a little difficulty with the funky pump, but I bit my lip and did not do it for her.
I couldn't hold it anymore when she dripped gas on the car. "You have to clean that up," I snipped.

"How?" She was eight again.

I pointed to the towels.
She reluctantly got some, put acted like she was putting her hand in a toilet boil as she wiped.
I held back, though. My helicopter blades did not start rotating.
She was almost through. "Okay, you know how to get to school, right?"
"MOOOOM! Of course I do."
I backed away. "Alright then," I said. "You clearly GOT this." I tried not to be offended. My asking was not rooted in me assuming that she couldn't handle things, not this time. If anything, I was more concerned that sense of direction, or lack thereof, was hereditary. I have none, and hers was probably made even  worse by the continual use of GPS and Siri and Cortana to even walk up the road a piece to the store.
"Yes, mom. I'm not two!"
I backed away and retreated to my car, watched her turn on her engine and then TURN THE WRONG WAY out of the gas station.
My first instinct was to follow her, chase her down and put her on the right track, but then I exhaled and let her take that wrong left turn, and I...went right.
I realized in that instant that I could fix it for her again, or I could let her take a few wrong turns and get there eventually. She might be late and she might discover a short cut. She might discover parts of our 'hood that she didn't know existed. Bigger than that though, I realized that I could keep doing everything for her, or I could let her do for herself. That one small step, might just make the difference between her venturing out across the world to find her own path, or being stuck, too afraid to go anywhere unless I (or someone else) laid  out the map and turns in front of her.  What kind of mother would I be if I let my child become dependent on someone else to be her GPS on the road of life?
That option is just not acceptable because that leaves her in my sight, under my control, with no adventure tale to tell, and most assuredly living on my Italian leather couch.



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