If you’re wondering why there are so many horrendous drivers on the road, I’ve got the answer: it takes exactly six minutes to pass a driving test. At least that’s how long it took my daughter–the one who, en route to the test, swerved around a turning car without checking her rear-view mirror.
This is what her test consisted of: first, she had to roll down the windows, which wasn’t as easy it sounds because we were in a borrowed car. (In Massachusetts you have to take the test in a vehicle with a center emergency brake–presumably so the instructor can yank up on the handle if you veer wildly out of control–and she couldn’t immediately find the controls.) She demonstrated her hand signals; then, on the quiet roads around the RMV, she turned left, turned right at a stop sign, drove a block, parallel parked (with a car only in front), backed up 20 feet in a straight line, performed a three-point turn (even though the Mini Cooper she was driving simply could have pulled a U-turn), “secured the vehicle” on a slight incline (ie turned wheels toward curb), parked the proper distance in front of a fire hydrant, and stopped at a traffic light.
Just as I thought, “Now we’ll see how she does on a busy road,” the instructor directed her back into the RMV parking lot. Are you kidding me? I wanted to scream. Why don’t you ask her to change lanes? Navigate a four-way intersection? Merge into heavy traffic on a highway under construction? React to an urgently buzzing cellphone? Admonish her friends not to drink beer in the back seat?
But I didn’t. I was too busy thinking about all the errands I no longer needed to run and carpools I didn’t have to drive.
Even before my daughter had stopped the car and shifted into park, the lady was stamping her permit. “Congratulations,” she said. “You did a good job.” Pathetically, I teared up, which I realize is sort of a Pavlovian response to any rite of passage I witness in my children.
“Mazel Tov!” I said after the instructor left. She looked shell-shocked. “I’m kind of freaking out right now! Mommy, YAY, I just got my license!!”
I was kind of freaking out, too. But there was no turning back. “Do you want to drive home?” I asked. She didn’t. She had a lot of texting to do.