Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Baby Driver

You are such a big girl now, off to the DMV to get your license –

all this at 7:25 am after getting home at 5:30am from San Diego

but I remember when you were small and every car ride was an adventure.
I remember when we brought you home from the hospital, your very first car ride. Dad and I weren’t sure we did the car seat right. It was a nerve wracking drive from Visalia to Exeter.
I remember how you liked to sing in the car. In Romania, you sang to us from the back seat of our blue station wagon. You loved to sing the “ABC” song. Before you could even speak, you made noises in tune with the song. We all knew exactly what you meant.
Once we didn’t know what you meant. On vacation, we drove Chris Brown to Sienna, Italy, dropped him off and then picked up Mary Kay there. We drove through the evening back to our Tuscan villa. The whole way you said something over and over. When we all finally got out of the car, we saw a huge full moon low on the horizon and realized you had been saying “moon” over and over again for three hours. We thought you were so observant.
When we moved to Silver Spring, we got a minivan that we named the Lucky Caravan. Parents were in the front, baby twins were in the middle row and you were way in the back. I worried about you in the way back but you were fine. You sang along with our Wee Sing tapes. You loved the Dinosaur tape best. The twins would often fall asleep in their car seats. You rarely did.
In Hong Kong, you mostly rode in taxis. The car seats did not work so I made you wear seatbelts. Sometimes the taxis did not have seatbelts. Then you sat on my lap and I held on to you very tightly. I didn’t mind this mode of travel.
We drove our car, named Silvery, to Chung Hong Kok every Sunday. We had a picnic dinner on the beach. On the way home Dad would tell ghost stories. The twins would scream and you would laugh. All the way home.
When we moved to Germany, we bought a car named Blueberry. We had lots of “adventures” with Blueberry. You were always a good sport.
There was the time the diesel fuel froze, Blueberry stopped and I was taking you to your first swim practice. I flagged down a car with an Australian rugby sticker. They took you to swimming. I came later.
There were all those times driving over Brenner Pass, straight up through the Alps from Germany into Austria. We always held our breath and cheered Blueberry on.
There were those times when Blueberry overheated in Italy and Dad made us all get out and walk. Royce wrote a letter to the next owner of Blueberry and said to relax and wait when Blueberry gets too hot. We did that many times.
In Germany, we discovered podcasts. We would drive to early morning swim practice, past foggy fields, listening to 99PI. Driving back from Garmisch once (after a great hike through the gorge and a swim in a lake), we listened to the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut podcast. I pulled off the autobahn because I was laughing so hard. We were still laughing one hour later when we got home.
I remember when you told us you were in Driver’s Education at high school. I said I did not sign you up for that. You said it was required. Immediately you started to comment on my driving. It all seemed kind of funny when you were 15.
Then you turned 16 and a friend of yours drove up to our house with her Dad. She was 3 days younger than you and already driving. You decided you wanted to drive then too. I said why? You said you wanted to drive to Sperry Observatory where you and I took a class. I said we do that together. You said we could take separate cars.
You and I went to the car park behind the big church and practiced at night. You got the hang of it right away. I did not get the hang of you getting the hang of it. Not right away.
After your first driving lesson, you were so excited. You told us your driving instructor was a former race car driver. She came into the house and told me how great you did. She said someone honked at you. She was not happy. I was not happy. But you were happy. You got your driver’s permit right after that.
You told me you were so nervous for your driver’s test. You wanted to pass. Before that I did not want you to pass. I did not care. But then you cared. So I cared. I wanted you to pass- just a little bit.
Today it snowed. I was so worried. About snow, about ice, about mean drivers cutting you off. About just about everything but mostly about you.
You passed. You said it was fine. You bonded with other kids at the DMV. The instructor drove the other kids home. You went back to school. We were proud of you for passing. And for going back to school. And now you are a driving person and the world seems bigger. Be safe baby driver. Happy Birthday.


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