Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Easiest Rite

It's that time again. A rite of passage for a 15 year old. A time of terror for her mother.

Rylee has been SOOOOOOOO excited to get her driver's permit. She has been studying the driver's manual, taking practice tests online, and trying to find a parent to take her to the DMV.

Here in Smallville, the DMV is only open certain days of the week, and for us, is two towns away. Jake drew the short straw, so they drove up and came back way too quickly. "So, how'd that go?" I asked. Jake responded that they needed Rylee's SSN card, which was a bad thing because that had disappeared I-don't-know-how-long ago. You want to know how to make a teenaged girl angry?

So, I had to gather proof of Rylee's existence and proof of my existence to send to vital records. Exactly two weeks later, Rylee's vital record was in my hands. This time it was I who gathered her paperwork and my paperwork, and drove up to visit the friendly DMV ladies. I figured, since I had my proof in hand I might as well get my own WY license, too. Rylee was extremely jittery with nerves about the test.

Getting my license was a cinch. With my super-vision I was able to read every single letter in the slide show binoculars which I really hoped they sanitized every now and then. After my photo, Miss DMV said it would be twenty dollars. I asked if I could pay for both of us on one check. She hesitated and said, "Well, if you're sure she'll pass."

"Oh, she'll pass." said my ever confident mommy voice.  I then sat and tried to find a magazine that wouldn't make me feel bad about myself while Rylee went to the touch-screen booth to test. She failed. So, the lady reset the machine and Rylee, covered in a dark cloud of doubt, went back to try again. She failed again.

Rylee was red-faced. Frustrated. Deflated. Embarrassed. The lady said we could come back the next day. She also said that a lot of kids fail and that some of those questions are designed to trick you. I ripped up my check and wrote a $20 one for my license. I followed Rylee out to the car. I tried to console her. She tried to hide her face from me.

On the drive home, I gave her space for a few minutes. My human nature began to try and cajole me into believing that Miss DMV purposely picked the hardest test they had because of my overconfidence. I wondered if maybe she somehow knew we were homeschoolers and wanted to tear us down. I told myself I was being ridiculous and not to turn this into anything about me. This was Rylee's dilemma.

When her breathing calmed, I told Rylee that this was not a reflection on her. She did everything she could to prepare. I asked her to remember the questions she missed. When we got home, Rylee went to her room to hide her tears and heartache from the world. I grabbed the driver's manual.

I searched for the info in the questions she didn't know. None of it was about driving. There are two different colored sections in the book. The front is pink. The back is not. The back is all the rules about driving. The front is about fines, suspensions, drunk driving, and even what has to be done to get your license back if you've been charged of delinquency on child-support payments. I realized that none of us in this household ever considered that she would be tested on the pink section.

I then brought up the website of practice tests. I noticed there was one selection that had fifty questions instead of the 25 that she had been taking. I took that test myself right then and found that that was the test with questions on the pink section. There was one question for which I searched and searched and could not find a direct answer.

When Rylee came out in public again, I chatted with her about what I had realized. I pointed out the logic that this was just like any other challenge she's ever faced. Like when she decided that her horse had to learn a certain skill, she figured out a way to teach it to her. I said that all she needed to do was learn what she hadn't learned. She nodded. I then explained to her what the pink section was and she was consoled by the fact that none of us thought she would be tested on that.

I then told her about the 50 question test that she never took. I showed her how the language in the questions is usually turned around or uses words that are more formal than conversational English. I suggested that she go through and underline anything that seemed hard to remember; DWUI- suspension durations for 1st, 2nd, 3rd offenses, etc.

As soon as Rylee finished eating, she grabbed the computer to take the test. She actually did better than I did. She studied the book and tested again--- 92%

The next morning I learned that Rylee had started a fast the night before and wanted Jake and I to pray with her before going to the DMV again. After I gave Rylee my own little pep-talk about taking time to read the questions aloud if need be, imagining herself actually in the situation a question is describing, and that even if she takes the test twelve times before she passes, that makes her an expert, not a failure, our whole family knelt on the living room floor and thanked Heavenly Father for our many blessings and prayed for Rylee's special fast.

As we drove up there, I was glad that Rylee did not seem disheartened. There were different ladies at the DMV which was nice because she didn't have to feel embarrassed. (I don't know if she even cared, but I was glad just in case.) Rylee was sent to screen #3 this time and I played 2048 while I waited.

She finished much quicker this time and when she approached me I looked up and her face was beaming. She lifted her shoulders and said, "I passed."

Miss DMV-the-2nd had Rylee sign her name and pose for a picture. For the next 15 minutes I was very grateful for this year's mild winter while Rylee drove us home; her first time on a highway.

I reflected as she drove. My daughter had prepared the best she knew how. She failed. She cried. My instinct was to fight for her; to prove that somehow it wasn't her fault; that she was sabotaged. Her instinct was to run; avoid the possibility of further humiliation.

We both had to tell our human natures to move over and make room for our spiritual natures.

My daughter came out of this wiser, stronger, and a little more sure of her own ability to overcome.

Part of the challenge of parenting is to NOT step in and make things easy for our children. We want to protect them. We want them to avoid hardships, especially the ones which we have personally experienced. We most definitely want to keep them from heartache.

But, that's how we change. That's how we figure out that we can either become better for our experiences or become bitter and blame others.

And trust me, as rites of passages go, getting a driver's permit is the easiest one.

 nIce jOB ryLEe!

1 comment:

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