McLEOD: Learning to let my daughter be in the driver's seat

My daughter is learning how to drive.

But as it turns out, I'm the one getting a lesson.

I'm learning all kinds of new things, like how to stifle a scream. And that no matter how hard you push your foot into the floor, you can't stop the car from the passenger side because there's no brake on that side.

I'm also learning that a sudden intake of breath at every passing car will not make them slow down. You know, the kind of huge gasping inhale a person might take if they saw a freight rain barreling toward their 2-year-old.

The weird thing about this is that my reaction has absolutely nothing to do with her driving. She's actually quite good.

But just knowing that my child is behind the wheel of an automobile and that other people are going to have the gall to drive right next to her (and sometimes even come at her from the opposite direction!) has my stomach in a lurch.

It's Niagara Falls all over again.

A few years back my husband and I took our two daughters — then 14 and 9 — to see the falls. We had visited early in our marriage, and I couldn't wait to show our girls what I considered to be one of the most spectacular sites in the world.

When the two of us visited Niagara we spent the entire afternoon walking up and down next to the rushing falls. I enjoyed every minute of it, and it lived in my memory as one of the most awe-inspiring things I've seen.

But then I took my children.

From the moment we got within about 15 feet, no make that 50, of the roaring falls my stomach felt like it was in a vice grip.

The foaming, crashing white water was no longer beautiful; it was a rushing torrent of death threatening to snatch my babies.

What were these people who planned this park thinking?

A steel railing and concrete? Really? Is that the best they could do?

If they truly wanted to make the falls enjoyable they would enclose the entire thing in plexiglass and only let people watch from 100 yards away.

Millions of people have safely visited Niagara Falls, yet when standing next to it in the presence of my non-climbing, non-toddler, not-leaning-over-the-railing children, I didn't enjoy a minute of it. All I felt was imminent danger.

It's the same thing with the car.

Every time she gets behind the wheel, I feel like the laws of the Universe are being violated.

What kind of insane society do we live in where people would think it's normal for my child to be in charge of a moving vehicle? And what the heck are all these other drivers doing out there? Don't they know my baby is in that old four-door gold car?

All those other people on the road should just go home right now and stay there so that my daughter can drive five mph and have the entire road to herself everywhere for the rest of her life

Or better yet, maybe that plexiglass thing isn't too far fetched. Anybody know where I can buy two tons of Lucite?

I'm sure by the time she drives me to the nursing home, this gut-wrenching feeling will have passed. But for now, please be careful people, my heart is rolling down the highway in a gold four-door car.

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