As I read yet another story about a teen who drove drunk, distracted or just too fast, it breaks my heart and strikes a fear into me that goes deeper than you can imagine. As I prepare to go with my daughter to get her drivers license, I fight with wanting to keep her safe and knowing she has to have some independence. I hope that I have instilled a healthy respect for the privilege of driving. I have reminded her not to fiddle with the radio or respond to a text. Repeatedly I have admonished her to watch her speed, to be careful at night, and to make sure she slows down in the rain. When it comes time for her to get that little paper that makes her a driver, I hope that I have given her the tools to be safe.
I am careful who I let her drive with; I make sure I know the teenager. Most of her friends are good kids, but a mom can never be too careful. I am starting to sound as overprotective as she thinks I am. This I justify as my job. As they grow up this job gets harder. You can only do so much to get them ready for the time when you give them more independence.
Now she is a senior in high school. With each passing month I need to let go a little more, and it breaks my heart that one day soon she will think she does not need me anymore.
Until that time, I show her the newspaper articles about the kids who drove too fast or had a few drinks and thought they were ok. She has been touched by this twice just this year and we are only half way done. All I can hope is that all of this has the effect of allowing her to know that she is not invincible and that there are people who love her and want to see her live a long happy life.