My son came home from his dad’s last night and informed us that – yet again – the Driver’s Ed instructor had screwed up and he’d missed a driving opportunity. To complete this Phase 1 course, he has to drive with the instructor for six sessions, which are scheduled independently outside of class.
This guy has not shown up to class, which he does to schedule sessions with the kids, for several days. Then this past weekend, he told Kyle he would call him to confirm a Sunday drive and never did. Oh, he called, though he did so after the fact, to tell Kyle that he’d missed the session and would have to pay $25 to make up the missed drive.
When Kyle started to tell the story, I demanded that he give me the guy’s name and phone number, so I could call and read him the riot act. (Keep in mind, this was after several missteps on his part.)
“No, mom,” my son said. “It’s fine. I’ve got it.”
“You’re 14,” I told him, “This isn’t yours to handle. The guy keeps screwing up and I paid over $300 for this class.”
I got mad. He got mad. His stepfather got mad. And it became a battle of wills, with my son insisting he “had it handled,” while we, the adults, insisted that we needed to “handle it.” I asked him to sit on the porch for a few minutes, while everybody settled down.
After a short while, I went out to talk to Kyle to see if I could figure out what really needed to happen next.
“Mom, you picked the wrong driving school,” he said calmly. “These people are so disorganized and it’s not going to be perfect. We just have to get through it. The guy said he’s not going to charge us the $25 and he agreed that he’d made a mistake. It’s all good.”
I’ve always parented Kyle in a way that supported his growing independence. “Go on in the store and buy what you need,” I’d tell him when we went to the corner store to get something. “Here’s the money.”
“If you don’t feel like the teacher graded your project fairly, let’s go in and talk to him about it,” I told him when he was disappointed with a grade on a project in 6th grade. He’d talk it through with his instructor, learn what he’d missed on the rubric, and know how he could do better on the next one.
In every case, Kyle would balk a bit, though we’d push through it and it would be easy for him next time.
Now, here he was “handling” a difficult situation with finesse and I was trying to jump in the middle of it. This was “adult business,” not “teen business.” In reality, it is his business and if he can use his budding people skills to “get through” the Driver’s Ed class with the unorganized instructor, who am I to get in the way?
Just another small step in growing his independence. Looking good so far, son. Now mom just has to learn to step back and let you take the lead.