Drive me crazy: worrying times when your kids take to the road

By Grainne McCool (@GrainneMcCool)

As a parent, and perhaps even more so as a Mother, one of our biggest fears is when our teenage son steps into his first car and takes to the roads.

My eldest son is now 24 years of age, living independently and working in his career field of Agricultural Mechanics.

I remember when he was just 12 years old, he drew a picture of a Subaru car.

The picture was really good and still hangs on the wall in his old bedroom but when I asked him about his drawing he told me that this would be his first car when he turn 17 and he couldn’t wait to get it.

Many mothers might brush this aside when heard from a 12 year old but I knew that my boy meant it.

He was getting a very keen interest in cars and driving at this early age, and it worried me so.

The interest in cars didn’t come from either myself or his father, it was just an ingrained facet in the boy.

It might surprise some folk that I took this declaration so seriously and I spent that night crying myself to sleep.

Now for people who don’t know me, I’m a very independent woman and pride myself on raising three boys to be very independent young men, all with the support of a great father and husband I must add. But this really knocked me.

Over the coming weeks, the boy talked a lot about the car he would be buying in just five years time.

That don’t Impreza me much: Parents will naturally worry once their children start driving

Everyone told me not to worry, that it was just a passing phase.

We were not a wealthy family so it wasn’t a case that Mammy and Daddy would be buying the car; that wasn’t an option.

As the years went by the boy got himself a part-time job and began saving for his car.

Unknown to me, he had be driving my cousin’s car and tractors down on his farm not far from where we live.

In hindsight this was probably what stood by him when he did get that car.

So as the boy approached his 17th birthday he applied for his driving test.

A date came through and my prayers went unanswered. I prayed he wouldn’t pass, just this once but the boy arrived home proudly displaying his certificate: he was now legal to drive on the roads of Ireland.

It was during that summer, his final summer before completing his Leaving Certificate, that he worked extra hard.

He worked over-time in the local hotel where he was then ‘assistance maintenance man’.

Alongside his studies he managed to carve the makings of a career for himself also.

And then it arrived. His first car, a Honda Civic.

Not quite the Subaru he had dreamed off but this was his realising the teenage dream.

So it was time for me to make a very conscious decision.

I made a promise to myself there and then, that I would not lie awake at night worrying about the boy driving.

Living here in Inishowen we have lost so many young men and women to our roads.

But I decided that night that my lying awake would not prevent the worst happening to my son. And so I slept.

To this day, seven years later, I have never lay awake at night worrying about the boy out on the roads.

That doesn’t mean he is the best driver, most sensible driver or safest driver there is out there.

He does know the risks, and he has lost friends.

I can only live in hope that he continues to stay safe but no amount of worrying from me will alter the consequences.

The Subaru did come eventually. He only kept it a short while but he realised that dream from all those years ago when he was just 12 years old.

Making that choice not to worry was one of the hardest ones I have made.

It was difficult to adhere to but it was necessary for me to retain my sanity.

I’m not a hard, self-centred mother because I made that decision.

I’m a mother who lives in the real world and choose to think about ‘me’ as well as the boy.

So when the second boy put his first car on the road just last month my decision still stood.

I guess I’m just glad they haven’t followed their father the biker’s footsteps just yet.

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