IT'S hard to imagine there's anything scarier than hopping into a car with a learner driver as they clock up those first few hours.
As scary as that can be, knowing your teenager is in a car with a freshly minted P-plater at the wheel also rates pretty highly on the list of things that scare the hell out of me.
"Hey Mum, Lizzie got her P plates today so we're going for a drive this afternoon, OK?" was the text I got from Miss 16 the other day.
"Yes. Have fun but be careful and let her concentrate," is what I texted back. Then I sat at home fighting the sick feeling in my stomach, my vivid imagination and the urge to get in my car and follow them around.
This is the third time I've been down this road and it really doesn't get any easier.
When the Divine Miss M first drove off with a P-plater at the wheel I was a nervous wreck. I just sat there all night watching my phone - waiting for the regular texts I had asked her to send. When I heard the car in the drive I pretended I'd been watching something on the TV and had barely noticed she'd been gone.
As it turned out I had good reason to be worried. Her friend managed to pop a tyre going around a roundabout on one of her first solo trips (not with my daughter on board, thankfully). Even my daughter acknowledged this particular friend was not a great driver and avoided driving with her after that.
But Miss M and Number 1 Son survived this stage and now that Miss 16 is enjoying getting out and about with her P-plater friends I just keep reminding myself that this too shall pass. But it is hard not to worry.
Especially when Miss 16 says things like this, "I had to tell Jess how to use her indicators on a roundabout today," or "I had to tell Katie to leave a bigger gap," or "I really don't know how Kelly got her licence on the first go".
I will actually be relieved when Miss 16 gets her licence later this year because despite reflexively using my invisible brake pedal when she's driving I do think she is a pretty good driver (all due to my excellent instruction, of course).
So until she can get behind the wheel without me or her dad in the passenger's seat I just have to have a little faith in her friends and their driving ability.
That won't stop the sweaty palms and stomach-churning anxiety but I'm not so old that I don't remember that delicious feeling of freedom that comes from having a friend who has their driver's licence.
So while they are enjoying the world around them I'll be crossing my fingers (and toes) and hoping that life is kind to her and her friends and that any mistakes they make are not life-changing.
How did you handle it when your teens started being driven around by other teens?
*Life with teenagers can be like an out-of-control roller coaster ride so when there's no one else to turn to for support or a second opinion, I go undercover to blog about the everyday dramas of raising my otherwise perfect teens.
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