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Pamela Fagan Hutchins | Road Daze: The Clark Kent Chronicles

Um, yeah, I'm ready for my driver's license.

Let’s see…

  • He processes about half the signals he receives...
  • He forgets to tell me most of what his plans are…
  • He is prone to sudden, impulsive changes of direction when walking
  • He substitutes his own judgment for those of adults and rules…
  • He’s a MALE…
  • He’s obsessed with technology, dials, gadgets, and gizmos…
And he wants us to let him get a driver’s license??? Lord help us all.
When our middle child turned 15, we sponsored her to obtain a “hardship” license in Texas, so that she could get to and from her swim practice, job at teaching swimming lessons, and school. It made sense. She’s uber-responsible, and both us parents travel for work, unpredictably so. She’s 17 now. She accelerates and brakes too fast, but, other than that, we’re as comfortable as we can get with the concept of her driving.
Clark is 15. We would no more have handed him a set of keys on his 15th birthday than given him a switchblade and suggested he play tiddly winks with it. His sixteenth birthday cometh. His grandparents have an old Tahoe with his name on it. What shall we do?
One option still on the table is to hold off until he is older. However, we have decided to keep that one in abeyance, in case of dishonesty. Instead, we plan this approach:
1. Have his doctor sternly lecture him on ADHD, meds, and driving: thou shalt consume all meds or thou shalt not drive. She’s already has this convo with him once. We will facilitate a re-chat. If he misses meds, he can’t drive.
2. He will attend the legally-mandated drivers’ ed program, and in addition, he will have two months driving with a parent in the front passenger seat over the summer for further evaluation and potential veto.
3. We will allow him to drive only to school and back, or on pre-approved short trips. He will take his younger, non-ADHD sister to school each day. Once, when they were 13 and 11, I put Clark in charge of negotiating a plane change on the way to visit their grandparents. 11-year old Suz ultimately had him paged at the airport when she needed to board and he had disappeared. He was reading a gaming magazine at a newsstand. And he’d lost his boarding pass. Susanne saved him. We’re hoping she will stabilize the home-school commute as well. And tattle.
4. We are installing a GPS system in the car that will alert us if he strays from the planned trip pathways, or breaks other driving laws (family or state). He loses driving privileges immediately if this occurs.
5. We are researching phone jamming options now.
The top cause of death for teens is auto accidents, and ADHD teens are at an even higher risk. Some of our rules make sense for non-ADHD teens. Other teens don’t need quite this level of hovering. Clark has ADHD. He has me for a mom. He does.
Countdown until sixteenth birthday: nine months.
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14 Responses to Road Daze: The Clark Kent Chronicles

  1. Had two sons. Went through “I want a drivers license” with two sons, twice. Don’t want to scare you but older son wrecked my new car the first time I let him drive it. Couldn’t bring myself to teach younger son to drive (because my nerves were shattered from older son) so my partner had to do it. I don’t envy you this time in your life………well the son driving part. Best wishes, though. Sending safe driving karma your way….er, I mean Clark’s way.

    Happy Christmas to you and your family!


  2. ummm. wow. doesn’t he have to drive around with you for a year before he can take the test on his own? in VT you do. maybe you can move to VT? hubs can train for IMLakePlacid, and we can all go watch the Boston Marathon together?
    in reality, though, this is a tough call. do you have driving schools there? VT has them through the highschools. it is an actual course offering. hafta have it to apply for a license, so…

    best of luck to you!

    • Pamela says:

      He drives with us for about the last year, when we aren'[t in the city. It’s illegal until he has a learner’s permit, and he has to test for driving within a few months of getting the learner’s permit. Bleck.
      But the VT move and Boston training sounds awesome 😉

  3. Grace says:

    I’m not going to be any help here. My oldest, a girl, is my worst driver. Always has been and always will be. Scares the sh*t out of me when I ride with her. Her younger sister is a good driver, and my son, who will be 16 in July, is better than either one of them. So I’m feeling kind of good about the teenage driving situation.

    Good luck.

  4. LBDDiaries says:

    Is there a driving school nearby? Separate from any they offer in high school? That’s what I did when son pulled the “I’m getting a motorcycle” card out – he was old enough but I said, “For your mother’s heart, would you please take a motorcycle safety course first?” He did and to this day says it is the best thing he ever did. Oh yeah, and cover them all in prayers and guardian angels!!

  5. ~Kris says:

    I’m the oldest of 3, and I my dad deemed my uber-responsible nature worthy of a learners permit on my 16th birthday (and it was snowing, I freaked!). My 2 younger brothers, did not. In NY (at least way back, pretty sure it’s true now still), if you were under 18, you needed your parents consent to get the permit, otherwise, you waited until you were a legal adult. The older of my 2 kid brothers only had to wait about 6 months after his birthday (basically, until after snow had left NY), but my youngest brother, had to wait until he could sign for it himself at 18.

    If you don’t feel he is responsible enough to get behind the wheel of a car to drive, i would not, under any circumstances, sign your consent for him to get a permit to drive.

  6. ~Kris says:

    oh, and Drivers ed was mandatory (per good ole dad) before being allowed to take the road test. Even with him driving with us, the drivers ed class was a good thing (it lacked all that parental pressure)

  7. Eric Hutchins says:

    I almost feel as if we should be required to send out a public service announcement:

    Hello Houston, Please be advised that Clark Johnson is about to get on the road, he will be driving a ………

    Kidding I actually think that Clark will be fine AND that his mom his right to have her concerns.

    Biggest thing that worry’s me with kids is texting while driving and that worries me for all.

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