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Challenge: Life Changes

Helping Your Older Kids Wrap Their Minds Around The Double-Standard

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Approximately 87,600

Admittedly, this is a rough estimate and I rounded it off, but I am trying to figure out how many times I have driven my 5 kids places over the past 30 years, since my oldest child was born.

From the day after we brought Emilie home, when I strapped her back into her car seat to go visit her Pediatrician for her first Baby Well-check, until I ran my youngest to soccer practice a few nights ago, I arrived at roughly 87,600 (give or take the 7 or 8 times their dad might've driven them somewhere.)

Which might explain the rather unorthodox reaction I am having to youngest getting his driver's license.

I am actually letting him drive.

Yesterday, when two of my daughters happened to be home, chatting in the kitchen, one of them looked up and asked,

"Where's Tommy?"

When I answered, "He's at Soccer practice!" they kindly offered to pick him up on their way back home from running an errand. This left me no option but to 'fess up and admit,

"He drove himself there!"

"He drove?" They exclaimed, in unison and surprise. Apparently, according to the girls, getting one's license around here was certainly a laudable milestone, but it didn't necessarily translate into the level of freedom and autonomy their brothers enjoy.

Okay, I admit I might've put some ridiculous restrictions on my daughters when they were new drivers, freshly sprung from the loins of the DMV with their little plastic cards in their little plastic hands, but things were different then.

I had rules and standards at one point.

-No listening to the radio while driving....No Backstreet Boys, No N'Sync, No Brittany Spears or Destiny's Child. The boys, however, managed to convince us that they would actually drive better with the thrum of a steady rap beat.

-No interstate driving. I mapped out some elaborately circuitous routes for my little girls in an effort to keep them off the interstate. This apparently took them through some sketchy parts of town. At one point, my second daughter complained that she thinks a stray bullet grazed her car. So, we allowed the boys take more direct routes via the highways and byways.

-No leopard covered plush steering wheel cover or pink rabbit's foot rearview mirror decor. Sorry, I know teenaged girls love to pimp their rides out, but this is all just too distracting. I needed their hands on the actual steering wheel at 10 and 2, with nothing dangling in their view. Fortunately, the boys never wanted to trick out their vehicles with crap from Claire's or Limited Too. Some fast food bags litter the floorboards, posing no immediate safety threat.

The kids can criticize me all they want, but I'm proud of how I've evolved as a parent. I'm not saying that I don't still worry up a blue streak. It's not like utter lawlessness abounds. Tommy is required to text me when he arrives at his destination and when he leaves wherever to return home, etc. We haven't gone so far as to embed a chip in him, but we are tracking his movements...

hich is how I came to notice that, as the 5th and final child of exhausted and burned-out parents, he's a little bit like your Visa Card - he's everywhere he wants to be.

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