The rite of passage line starts here

At the door to the Texas Driver’s License field office, the Friday before school starts.

Seven in the morning. Doors open seven-thirty.

By the time we get to the information desk, we are number 84.

Sydney holding her number with number being served in the background.

Waiting and waiting in the endless line. Standing room only.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Because to get here, you have to go here. Where it all begin….behind the wheel.

A year ago, my daughter started the dreaded drivers ed at school, which included manual training. The one in which your fifteen year old knows more about road rules than you and is not afraid to point that out. Of course, this is BEFORE she even drives a real car. After weeks of classroom time, the brave dedicated drivers ed instructor teacher paying for his Harley, takes the little darlings (that must be some Harley) out on the road. Then, he deems them worthy of a getting a permit to drive YOUR car – with you “instructing” (or cowering in fear) your child yourself. It was at that time, I could only WISH for the droning correction of road violations and inches from the curb or corner, rather than – the floorboard stomping, rear bucking, clinging to the passenger door handle with all my might – ride of my life. Imagine going from annoying trivia to downright death-gripping terror.

Over and over and over.

There was not a happier soul than me on this child’s 16th birthday. SWEET SIXTEEN. Dreams of the DPS; a license waving, smiling child-o-mine warranted safe for the roads. Whoopee! I would be FREE.

Except I wasn’t. Unfortunately, we didn’t practice parallel parking. More unfortunate? That’s the first thing they make them do. If they can’t? They fail.

Didn’t I ask her if she could parallel park? Why yes, yes I did. Her answer, we did it once in driver’s ed. Do you feel comfortable testing? [:shrugs:]

In all honestly, I failed my parallel parking, but the nice DPS officer – dad of my brother’s best friend – passed me anyway. We were hoping she could be marked off for that and move on. But that wasn’t so. According to the strict, leather pant wearing (even I was intimidated) female DPS officer, you did have to pass that, or fail.


So she failed, then she headed off to Mississippi for the summer with promises of practicing driving EVERY day. Her dad assured me, he would take her on the road and do his parental duty. He would step up and partake the same hell instructing, I had done the last six months.

Ah, but see, there is a little problem. What he did not tell me (and still hasn’t, but I figured out on my own thankyouverymuch) is that he has a phobia. it’s not very known, in fact, I couldn’t find the correct term. Fear of riding in the car with a teenage driver. But it’s something like amaxoephebiphobia (your welcome). Yeah. This is a real issue. Like spiders.

So she comes back from two months of bliss with absolutely NO ROAD DRIVING PRACTICE at all, but a really nice beach tan to show off. And do you know what that means in the feeble facebook, text messaging, iPhone, MTV mind of a teenager? We start ALL OVER. I assure you, there is no memory of driving skills. I re-take my place of PAIN in the passenger seat, except this time we add in parallel parking practice upon every outing.

I insist on the busy streets. I insist on parking between two cars. I insist on highway driving. I insist on everything that makes me cringe and weep. It’s a rite of passage. She must be a driver (to get to school, the mall, work). And we did, we drove everywhere – curbs, medians – you name it. All to build up to that day. THE DAY she tests again. When she is finally ready. That day when I can finally ride in the car with her, play words with friends on my iPhone, not stomping, not bucking, not worrying, if I will smack the windshield with my face. Just glancing here and there, playing my words. Ahh. Finally.

So we head to the DPS where begins our line. Our number. Our long wait.

Oh. Mm. Gee.

And then.
They run out of driving tests ten numbers before ours is called.

And then.
We wait in line anyway hoping they have pity on us.

And then.
They don’t and we leave frantically driving and calling other DPS offices.

And then.
They are all full too.

Anyone else a, Dude, Where’s my car fan? Heh.

And then.
We try the country. Cleburne. Because Cleburne is NEVER busy and Cleburne DPS office actually answers their phone and still had driving spots open.

It took us an hour to get there.

The line looked liked this!


They ran out of spots while waiting in line.

And then…….
I called mercy. Uncle. It. Just. Wasn’t. Happening.

Crushed, we left. All that work, and she didn’t even get a chance to try.

I know you think, well, no problem – just go back the next day. But see, the drivers ed paperwork expired. So she had to re-request that, and then wait to get it back. School started, and there ya go. Another few weeks fly by.

Until yesterday, when we ventured back for another beating. DEEP BREATHS. Seven AM, you guessed it. Already a line formed for when they open at seven-thirty, but thankfully not as long. I refuse to get there with my lawn chair at four am. Refuse. By the time we got all the paperwork filled out, new thumb prints, and cute smiling little pic in front of the blue screen. The first road test opening was noon or three. She had school. I had work. I asked if a non-parent could bring her back for the driving test and they said yes. So, we got a three pm slot with Jason picking her up from school and taking her to it. I was disappointed to miss it. I really was. I wanted to see her face and give her a hug, win or lose. But it just didn’t work out, and you can’t say I didn’t try.

However, I am marrying the most wonderful man in the world. Even though, I wasn’t there. He texted me every moment. He knew how much it meant to me. He knew how long we practiced (and him too).

The officer beginning the test.

Sydney parallel parking like a champ.

She passed, she did it! Yay!

No one told me how emotional this would be. How hard and how rewarding.

Congratulations Sydney! You are a licensed driver in Texas and successfully completed a child’s (and parents) rite of passage. I am so very proud of you.

Now about that driving by yourself thing? Well, I think we need just a tad more time before we are ready. Maybe, we can follow behind you? Just for a little while……

28 thoughts on “The rite of passage line starts here

  1. Yogasavy

    Congratulations on this step…. Now for the next one when she gets behind the wheel and the worries begin for us the parent! I remember those times but now am fine as one son lives in London where he takes the tube or the bus…… Yes! And the other one is near campus and hopefully he bikes…… Thank you up there for hearing my prayers!!!


  2. Yikes–that’s almost unbelievable–talk about persistance. Congratulations to Sydney, and to you! I got a chuckle out of the parallel parking, because I couldn’t parallel park to save my life! But the nice man passed me, anyway, too. Ahh… back in the day…

    I really should practice that, though.


  3. Yay! Congrats to you both. It’s so hard, isn’t it!

    I’ve gotten one through driving and now have another coming up on the big 16th birthday. Right about the time I get over that, the baby will be ready to start learning. Ack!


  4. Good grief! I can’t believe you had to go through all of that just to get a license! I grew up in a really small town so it was never really that big a deal….until we moved to Washington State (military)! I, being a spouse and not active duty myself, had to get a new Washington license when my NM. one was expiring, and can you believe they make you take another written test..even if your license hasn’t expired yet! I had to get the test booklet and study!


  5. Goodness! The things that we do – willingly & with such emotion – for our children! Congratulations to Sydney and to you, too! We are there every step of the way; and how lucky we are…


  6. When our granddaughter, Kaitlin, was learning to drive, our daughter put her father in charge of parallel parking. They practiced and practiced, AND practiced. Too bad he didn’t have the same patience when his daughters were learning to drive!

    Grace will be 16 in October, and granddaddy has again been appointed the parallel parking chore!


  7. I’m sure all that BS she went through to get it makes her REALLY appreciate it, huh? GEEEEEZ. It seems so obvious that they need to have more testers!?

    Super big congrats – to both you for getting through it – and to Sydney!! Now, drive safely!


  8. Angelia,
    I’m only months behind you when our oldest will be taking his test (December!!!) (yikes!).

    Very cool – Sydney is a licensed driver!! Mom is happy (…and perhaps a little nervous!!!).

    She will do great…

    …and so will you…


  9. runrettarun

    Congrats to your girl. I failed my first driving test too. Damn parallel parking! It’s tough. Definitely sounds like you have a winner for fiance! 🙂


  10. I failed my first try but it wasn’t parallel parking, just some nonsense about entering the intersection and attempting to turn left on a red arrow. Oops. The teacher took mercy on me and did give me a do over after much tactful prodding. I cringe at the day when I have to train my little ones to drive.


  11. She did it, Yay! I have to admit I feel the same way as you teaching and my husband appears to have that phobia too. The result: I now have 24 and 17 year olds who do not have their license yet. My youngest turned 15 this week. She’s already glaring at me and asking when she can take the written test for her learners. Oh Joy…


  12. YAY Sydney!!!!!!! It is SCARY isn’t it!!!!??! My stepson got his in January…that fear doesn’t really easy up…sorry for that warning! You’ll always worry!

    How is it that your DMV doesn’t have paralell parking pylons to practice with? Ours does…and its most nerve wracking!

    I had to re-take everything about 6 yrs ago to get a WA license…its NOT any better or less nervy after having your license for 20 years!


  13. Yeah, it’s a right of passage, but not a fun one, huh? Our DMV has been “off-line” for the past two weeks with computer issues. All over the state. Can you believe it? I’m sooooooo glad I haven’t had to conduct any business with them, of late!


  14. my brother passed his permit test everywhere we go he asks to drive the family around. thankfully i’m not the ripe old age of 25 yet so he doesn’t get to drive with only me in the car. but he does like to state the rules of the road to whomever is driving and will ask if something is legal or not.

    talk about putting you on the spot!


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