Columnist Danny Henley's 16-year-old daughter celebrated a day of "independence" on July 27.
Most people recognize July 4 as a day of independence. For my daughter, Anna, Independence Day came a little over three weeks later when the 16-year-old earned her driver’s license.
When I came home for lunch last Friday I was advised that Anna was considering taking the driver’s test that day.
“Do you think I’m ready?” she asked.
I mentioned a couple of items I’d noted while riding shot gun during previous training excursions with Anna behind the wheel. I also suggested she might want to hone her parallel parking skills, which we had not worked on together.
I returned to work still uncertain if Anna would take her test on Friday, or use the time to further polish her driving skills with her mother, Nancy, serving as co-pilot.
As the afternoon wore on I found myself wondering if I’d receive a phone call to let me know if Anna had been successful, provided she even attempted the test. Then shortly before 4 p.m. through the newsroom door charged Anna with a broad smile.
“I passed,” she beamed, as she pulled out her billfold to show me her new driver’s license.
“Nice picture,” I noted.
“I look tan in it,” she said.
“It paid to wait to take your test until after spending a week at the beach, huh?” I said.
While I thought Anna’s picture looked good, I found out later my daughter wasn’t thrilled with it because she felt it made her look plump. (Would everyone thrilled with their driver’s license photo please raise a hand?)
My dear daughter doesn’t realize that the hard-working folks at the license bureau were hired for reasons other than their photographic skills.
It didn’t take long before Anna had updated her status on Facebook to deliver the “two-thumbs-up” message that she had gained her automotive independence.
Messages of congratulations from friends and family began pouring in. One of her cousins observed that now she has her driver’s license “your dad can lose the rest of his hair.” Don’t think for a second I haven’t considered the fact that before any of my five offspring started driving I had a full head of hair.
After work I had to add my “two cents” to the Facebook postings. I wrote that I am confident Anna will be a safe driver. Why? Because her father spends a large chunk of each work day within earshot of a police scanner and would likely know about any ticket she received before she had a chance to get home and report the infraction. It’s just one more reason why it stinks to have a father who is a journalist. Obviously reason No. 1 is because her writer/dad has a weekly column.
Before I arrived home from work on Friday Anna had already been unleashed to take her first solo excursion, which took her to the library and by our insurance agent’s office to drop off her report card so we can qualify for a good-student discount. Friday also marked the first time my dear daughter wanted the car keys for an excursion and was told “no.”
That brings us to another facet of Anna’s newfound independence – the Bill of Rights in regard to use of a family car.
I think Anna’s perception is:
• She has a right to the vehicle whenever she wants it.
• The expense of keeping the vehicle filled with gasoline is solely Mom and Dad’s.
• The added cost of insuring the car so a new driver can legally use it is solely Mom and Dad’s.
• The responsibility of keeping the vehicle clean inside and out is solely Mom and Dad’s.
There are probably more, but you get the picture.
Needless to say, the Bill of Rights will need some “tweaking” before it is ratified by all parties. Independence is never easy.