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‘Seeing eye-to-eye,’ Learning to drive in new areas

A student's story

I wanted to share an update regarding my last column where I explained that my mom and I weren’t seeing eye-to-eye about me driving to Pittsburgh with my cousin. My cousin and I took that trip to Pittsburgh to visit my sister at college in February. The trip was fun and exciting and scary all at the same time, but the bigger take-away was the understanding that my mom and I came to after I got home.

I talked to my mom about the trip, and she explained more of her concerns about letting me go. I eventually realized that some of the main points I made were wrong. The decision as to whether or not to allow me to go on this trip had nothing to do with trust or responsibility. It had everything to do with fear.

One thing about me that surprises everyone is that I hate driving. I’ll drive if I absolutely need to, but if someone volunteered to take over, I wouldn’t protest. Since I hate driving, my confidence in my driving is really low, so as the trip grew closer, I realized I was a little scared to drive to Pittsburgh without my parents, and I was definitely anxious about driving around the city.

We arrived in Pittsburgh on a Friday evening without any trouble. On Saturday, we decided to go to a museum downtown. None of us had driven in downtown Pittsburgh before, or any place bigger than Williamsport for that matter, so this was an adventure.

There is a lot more to think about when driving in a city. There are lots of turns that sometimes come up quickly or are not very clearly marked. It’s much harder to drive well when you don’t know exactly where you are going or aren’t familiar with the roads. There is a lot more traffic in the city, and the streets are narrower. And of course, we got “lost” a couple times, as much as you can with GPS anyway. But through these tense times, we stayed calm and were able to laugh at ourselves. More importantly, there were no accidents, and we all returned home safely.

I wasn’t the only one who was afraid, though. According to my mom, she needed to let me go on this trip because she realized that holding me back out of fear that something bad would happen to me was not a good reason.

She was afraid of losing me, she was afraid of untrustworthy people and she was afraid of all the potentially situations I could’ve encountered. She did trust me. She just didn’t trust everyone else.

After going to Pittsburgh, I was able to better understand the fear that something bad could happen.

I wanted to go to Pittsburgh because I thought it would be fun. I also thought it would help me grow up a little. The trip was very fun, and it did help me realize that I don’t need my parents to watch over my shoulder all the time. I realized that having my parents with me is like a security blanket. They are always there for me to fall back on, they are always willing to take the wheel for me.

I’m grateful for how safe they make me feel. But the trip also made me more aware of the potential for things to go wrong, even though nothing did this time. And I think it is that realization that helped my mom and I better communicate afterwards.

I couldn’t understand her concern before I went on the trip, but now I know that driving in a car, especially in an unfamiliar place, can be risky and even a little scary at times. I’m sure it’s nothing compared to letting your daughter do it on her own for the first time, though.

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