Manic: Several weeks ago when our son was about to turn 16. He begged us to take him to a parking lot several days in a row so he could practice his 3-point turns. He was also anxious to pass his DMV test, receive his license and drive, drive and drive. I was excited and terrified for him all in one.
Managed: Took a deep breath, had him practice up a storm, complete his driving courses and took him to the DMV on his 16th birthday. Much to his delight, he passed the road test with a perfect 100% score. And even more exciting was the big surprise that we had in store for him…a new car! The surprise was amazing and I will never forget that day, but the most important thing I want to tell you about is the contract that my husband drew up for our boy to sign before keys to the new car would be released. And I will get to the cocktails (for us) part of the story in a bit. But first, the almighty contract, which I highly suggest for you to create when your precious child takes that big step and becomes a licensed driver!
When my husband brought this home, it really got our boy’s attention. He was shocked that his Dad had taken the time to draw up a thorough, dated and very specific contract that would outline an agreement between him, our newly licensed 16-year-old driver, and us, his anxious parents.
He immediately understood that we are trusting him to drive off and to be safe, smart and responsible. He also understood just how much of a huge responsibilty we have decided to entrust him with as he read each provision. He also had to read the document aloud to us so that we knew that he had considered every word. The contract spells out rules that you would expect like absolutely no texting (or operating any electronic device) ever when driving a car. We also covered no driving ever if drinking has occurred. Our son is a straight A student who plays AAA/AA travel hockey and high school golf, so he stays away from alchol and drugs as he is very vested in his activities and doesn’t want to compromise the teams that he has worked so hard to be a part of….so although we know that he doesn’t do those things, it can’t be ignored that he may be tempted as he grows and becomes a college student. I also liked that my husband added that he will take care of his car and keep it maintained, that he will obey all traffic laws and not drive recklessy or be influenced by others in his car by goofing off behind the wheel. My favorite is the very last rule that says “So that I am always aware of what I have pledged, I will always keep a copy of this pledge with me in my car”….bravo honey!
I truly think that if our son ever considers breaking a pledge (he is human and he is a teenager), I do believe that he will remember this contract and think twice. I hope that this piece of paper and the memory of sitting down with the two people who love him more than anything in the world will help him to make the right choices, especially now that he is behind the wheel. This is taking some getting used to for me!
Now for the fun part of this post! Six years ago, my boy’s Dad made a deal with him that if he always made straight As in his classes (honors included) and stayed out of trouble, then when he turned 16, he would get some wheels. Those wheels were supposed to be his Dad’s old truck. We made the decision to instead surprise him with a new Nissan Xterra. After meeting with our auto broker, Tom Himes with Himes Leasing & Sales (602-957-6601), it was decided that the Xterra is a good choice due to the safety record of the model and the fact that it retains its value if well cared for and will run for years.
So we drove to Tom Hime’s office and told our boy that we were picking up his Dad’s new car, when actually it was his new Nissan that was waiting on the lot for our boy. He was absolutely shocked when we told him the surprise and you can see his surprise and delight in the pictures. He was also very humble telling us that Dad was supposed to be getting a new car, not him and that he would help to pay for it. We then told him about the contract (which definitely got his attention) and we told him that this car is an investment in him and that we fully expect this vehicle to take him all the way through college. We also explained that if he takes good care of it, then he will have equity in his nice ride for a trade-in when he goes to buy his next car on his own. We also let him know that he will work this summer to help pay for it over the summer months, but during the school year, he is to continue to focus on his straight A honors grades, his high school golf team and his travel hockey team. This winning formula has kept him out of trouble, engaged and focused as he works towards earning academic college scholarships.
The Cocktails for the Parents:
I must first tell you that (knock on wood) this having a 16-year-old licensed driver thing has been pretty good so far. He is being very careful, is arriving home early on his curfew (smart move on his part) and life is so much easier with a third driver to divide up the many commutes our busy family makes each day. I do NOT like the transit time, as I wait anxiously for him to arrive. I wait and wait for that arrival text and when he forgets, I get to wonder and worry. I have driven to his intended destination more than once when the arrival text didn’t come in. His destinations usually require his phone to be silenced, so I know that I can’t call, so off I go to find his parked car. He remembers to text me 95% of the time. We are working on getting that to the desired 100%.
Last weekend hubs offered me a cocktail. I declined, but after I watched my 16-year-old drive off with my 12-year-old girl to a church youth group, I decided that a little Vodka tonic (with lots of fresh lime) would take the edge off. I wasn’t used to him driving off and certainly not the two of them together…my entire life rode off in that car! Two hours later, they texted me that they were on their way home. The church is an 8 minute drive (yes, with my teen driving I now calculate the exact minutes it will take for the journey). 25 minutes passed and no sign of my babies. So hubs and I ventured outside, with cocktails in hand, eagerly awaiting their arrival. I then dialed my girl, as I don’t want to call my son when he is driving and she didn’t answer! My stomach dropped and I clutched my cocktail. Fortunately, they pulled in at that next moment.
Hubs and I both greeted them with annoyed and frantic yelling! They held up fast food bags and we told them not cool! Our son told us that he thought that little sister had texted us that McDonald’s was on their agenda. She thought that he had told us that little plan. So we told them that from now on they are to work together to make sure that they are communicating…and asking our permission first!
I had hubs mix me a second cocktail!
But truly, so far, so good. We take this new chapter day by day with daily reminders to be careful and daily prayers for safe travels.
You guys need to offer the contract for purchase with the appropriate blank spaces just like in do it yourself wills etc. Nice story! I am sure there will be more cocktails in your future. Erin and Paige want to know if Alexis has the same all A’s deal and what happens if there is one B in there. 🙂
Thanks Jennifer. Alexis made all A’s the last two quarters of 5th grade and she brought home all As and one B in her honors Math class so far in middle school (she was super bummed about the B). Lexi has asked us the same thing and we haven’t decided yet. John says that if he knows that the kids did their absolute best, then that is what counts. We know that Jack is a straight A student. Lexi has to try harder, so John hasn’t made a deal with her yet…but I know something that is tailored to her is coming!