with identifying as "Swifties," ignoring the reported Chinese threat
of bad dancing posed by TikTok, and pretending that plant-based meat
is actually edible, many young people in America are engaging in another
fascinating trendnot driving.
According to recent surveys, around 20% fewer teens of driving age
are getting their driver's licenses as compared to the glorious 1980s.
Much to the relief of my insurance premiums, our youngest daughter,
who recently turned 16, is one of these vehicular agnostics.
Speaking of the 1980s, the nanosecond I turned 16, I raced like a
scalded ape (wearing embarrassingly snug Ocean Pacific shorts) to
the local DPS office for my license. I then warted my dad until he
took me to a used car lot to pick up the coolest vehicle ever to leak
antifreeze into the front passenger floorboarda sleek, black
1985 Oldsmobile Calais. Yes, I literally drove it until it bled to
| My two older
daughters were also enthusiastic to begin testing our credit limits
as soon as they were eligible to drive. We bought both of them very
nice pre-owned Nissans, which have become grave threats to street
curbs and parking blocks throughout the State of Texas. They also
have developed acute phobias of car washes, and they only clean their
vehicles when I threaten to curtail their Starbucks privileges.
In my effort to afford my daughters the responsibility of soiling
their own vehicles, I continue to drive what could once have been
described as a 2013 Ford Expedition. Having apparently reached its
self-destruct date, it has now become little more than a chronic loiterer
in auto service departmentsheld together with road tar and melted
gummi bears. Instead of striking fear into my heart, the warm glow
of the check-engine light is almost comforting-because I know that
at least something on the vehicle still works properly.
When I first took my reluctant youngest daughter out to see what it
was like to sit behind the wheel, I did my best to create a non-threatening
experience for her. I chose an empty Baptist church parking lot for
our practice session, praying that the Lord would bless our time together
and that there wouldn't be an impromptu covered-dish supper that day.
I actually thought the practice went pretty smoothly. There was very
little screaming or cryingand my daughter remained fairly composed,
as well. Our good old Expedition even behaved throughout the ordealsaving
the major engine failure for the drive home.
But, for whatever reason, the experience made her even more uneasy
about learning to drive. (I think she was traumatized about having
to survive for more than twenty minutes without watching a YouTube
A few days later, she came to me and sweetly said, "Dad, I'm just
not ready to drive, yet."
And that's fine with me. Kids seem to grow up too fast these days,
anyway, and I'm more than happy to let her hang on to childhood for
a little bit longer.
I'm confident that we'll be watching her pull out of the driveway
and hit the curb soon enough. Until then, she can ride around with
me in the Expedition-watching for the check-engine light, listening
to Taylor Swift and spilling a few more gummi bears.