I have stared into the gaping, drooly maw of death. I have teetered on the brink of imminent demise. Now every day is a gift. I take time to smell the cappuccino. I live in the moment, not worrying about tomorrow because yesterday, I tried to teach my ADD daughter how to drive.
I prepared myself for this ordeal like any pragmatic father of a girl who can’t pay attention to an entire commercial: I dialed 91- on my cell; I hugged my wife and told her where to send a search team; I made an ice-cold dirty martini.
I didn’t want her to drive. This is a girl who can get distracted while tying her shoes. Letting her pilot a 5,000-pound hurtling tank of flammable gas through our neighborhood strikes me as unpragmatic. It makes me wish we were Amish.
For the sake of other parents in this predicament, some pieces of advice:
We used a forest preserve lot. No one goes there except forest preserve cops and the escaped convicts they’re looking for.
Pro: No oncoming cars.
Con: Deer-and they’re pretty, so brace yourself for sudden screeching halts followed closely by a barrage of “oh my god that deer is soooooo gorgeous” moments.
Like this kid sleeps. Might as well take advantage of the deserted, well-lit streets and clock some time while everyone else is watching the Late Show.
Con: The adrenaline making your heart spaz-out like a highly caffeinated Chihuahua as your daughter drifts into the other lane to see the couple in the next car will keep you awake till 3 a.m.
Pro: If you get a flat, you can lift the car with one hand.
Once she sees that one kid with the long hair and the nose pierced slouching on a bus bench as you hurtle past, a lengthy explanation about lane obedience will most likely be punctuated by death. Better to have a short, punchy catch phrase. Ours was “color in the lines,” which works best when delivered in all caps, thusly: COLOR IN THE LINES! COLOR IN THE LINES! OH MY GOD WE’RE GOING TO DIE!
Pro: Short, easy to scream.
The sheer bravado and élan in a good Sinatra song soothes nerves and bolsters confidence. Might work on the kid, too.
Pro: Goes well with the martini.
Con: Goes well with the martini.
These are just a few ideas, of course. I’d give more but my nerves are shot, and I’m still in the middle of calling close relatives and letting them know I’m alive.
Christopher Garlington is a
Chicago dad and the author of the deathbychildren.com blog.