It seems I had failed to cover sufficiently the usefulness of the brake pedal in controlling the car on hills and instead we were in what felt like a free fall down our steep driveway, barreling towards the street and potential live traffic. I let out a little cry at the prospect of my life ending prematurely. I don’t normally do that during driving lessons, but I thought we were just going to do three-point turns when suddenly I was on a roller coaster.
In driving lessons with my sixteen-year old daughter I see the same dynamic between us that has been going on since she was a baby. Her job is to grow. My job is to let go. Even better if it can be with my arms in the air in the front row seat screaming bloody murder because it is so thrilling.
Every day I offer a challenge, something she thinks she is not ready for that I know she can do. Whether it is cutting with scissors when she is a toddler, or maneuvering our car through the parked vehicles of the neighborhood on off-peak hours just yesterday, it is my job to know her abilities and guide her, and not let my own fears drive our discoveries together.
Okay, so I should have gone over the brake thing more clearly, but until I am in a free fall I don’t realize what I have not yet taught. By the end of our half-hour lesson she is saying she is proud of herself and hadn’t imagined she was ready for actual road driving even though I know that passing one moving car in an isolated neighborhood barely qualifies, but live traffic it was.
My job is to let go. To see that she is capable and encourage that even though doing so means she is moving farther away from me. I try to imagine that she is actually moving closer as we forge a bond of trust. It is a powerful bond that we will both cherish because it will be stronger than any cut the scissors can make, and any road that may lead to places far away.