Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mother cited for failure to yield control in vehicle

Our teenage son has been driving for a year now. He drives to school, drives to practices, and runs errands for us. Although he is a very skilled and safe driver, he has not had much highway experience.

That’s why today was a test for me as we traveled to Portland and back with him in the driver’s seat.

I always thought I’d be that hip parent, the one who is as cool as a cucumber, the mom who doesn’t get worked up over every little thing that could possibly go wrong. Put simply, I was NOT going to be my mom, who was decidedly un-cool in that area.

And then I had a child.

The moment I brought him home, I abruptly stopped sleeping through the night, waking up every time he so much as rolled over in his crib. I made everyone within a foot of him wash their hands before handling him. In the summertime, I still had him sleeping in long-sleeved footie pajamas in case of a chill.

Yeah, I was totally cool.

As he aged, I got a little bit better. I even threw caution to the wind once in a while and let him play with other kids who had not washed their hands. See? I was really letting go.

And then he had the audacity to grow up and get a license. Did he not realize this might entirely push me clean over the edge?

So I realized that something drastic had to be done before we drove for hours on end up and down I-5. Based on past experience, I came up with three basic rules:

• I will not utilize the “mom brake.” You know what I’m talking about – the arm slammed across your chest in the passenger seat as your mom slams on the brakes. Although I swore I would never do this, I truly believe this is instinctual in every mother. It’s like putting on mascara with your mouth open – it just happens whether we want it to or not.

• I will not slam my foot on the floorboard as a message to brake – now! This maneuver was used by my own mother and usually resulted in an eye roll from me. I can’t see Nathaniel’s eyes when I do slam my foot on the floorboard, but my guess is that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

• I will not be a backseat driver. My mother was notorious for this. “Eileen, if I were you I’d put my blinker on now … now … NOW!” I promised myself I would never do that to my own child, so imagine the horror when I caught myself saying, “Nathaniel, you might want to move into the other lane since that car up ahead of you can’t be trusted.”

Oh, honestly! I simply can’t un-momify myself.

I’d love to say that I succeeded and being the cool, hip, ever-patient parent on the drive to Portland, but then I’d be lying. Besides, that car ahead of us really couldn’t be trusted.

And Mom, you know what? I have a confession to make. I’m as un-cool as you were. Okay, maybe even more.

Eileen Burmeister lives and writes in Winchester, Ore. She can be reached at or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.

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