The learner's permit: Another step to adulthood for my toddler, oops, teenager

Another childhood milestone is about to transpire in the Potocko household. Like millions before and millions after, my 15-year old son, Alex, is about to get his learner's permit to drive.

Obviously this a very exciting time; honoring a rite of passage that is one step closer to adulthood … with swarms of parents enjoying mild cases of angina to accompany these rites.

My mom recently enjoyed turning 39 years old again. To make her celebration extra special, we watched videos of Alex as a youngster.

Reliving memories of Alex as a toddler only reinforces my belief that children are actually easier when they are young. At that time, however, I had no knowledge of this tidbit; none whatsoever. Friends with children much older than mine advised me how quickly babes grow, but being too busy amassed in poopy diapers and temper tantrums, it's hard to imagine the antics — oops, I meant to type adventures — of a teenager.

Seeing videos of Alex sitting in a booster seat at the dinner table, refusing to eat his salad, but happily kissing me in exchange for a Popsicle was ever-so-darling and oh-so-entertaining. After watching several videos, we all concluded that Alex was one cute wee little one.

My son has grown into a teenager who is smart, popular, talented, polite, respectful to others, and strong-willed. He can be a force to be reckoned with when dealing with his dad and me, however.

Let me share the road less traveled in regards to Alex acquiring his learner's permit. Alex told his dad and me the exact day when he would become eligible to get his permit — 15 years, 9 months old. Turns out that that oh-so-magical day was on a weekday. Hubby John and I work and while we could take off to take our son for his permit, we told him it would be easier if we went to the MVA early Saturday.

That was last month, so I'm sure you can imagine that didn't set well with the recipient of that news. Alex decided if we wouldn't take him during the week, he didn't want to go. That freed up my Saturday morning quite nicely, thank you very much. He came to his senses and decided that Saturday morning would work for him. How accommodating.

But alas, his decision was short-lived. During dinner, Alex informed us of his well thought out plan in regards to acquiring his permit. He wanted us — or one of us — to pick him up at noon Wednesday. He thought Wednesday would warrant the least crowds. And pay no mind to the fact that Wednesday is a work day and a school day. He would sacrifice his education in order to best assist us in helping him garner his permit on the day when the crowds are at a minimum.

His knowledge of all things is mind-boggling. He then enlightened us to the simple fact that he would be driving home from the MVA because all of his friends drove home straight away from the MVA. Really Alex? Really? From the MVA? This statement is coming from a child who has never driven anything more than a golf cart.

In fact, Alex stated that he imagined driving a car is no different from driving a golf cart.

I drive a SUV that weighs more than 4,000 lbs. You can stop a golf cart on a dime. You need more than 2 seconds to stop a truck. When mom Michelle told son Alex he needed to practice driving in an empty parking lot, we got an earful… and a tad bit of — let's call it "indigestion" — from that dinner conversation.

The snappy repartee continued until I heard it for the umpteenth time and "enlightened" my toddler — oops, I meant to type, teenager — that we were NOT going on Saturday or any other day until he was calm, level-headed and respectful. That ended that conversation.

Oh, and "everyone" who drove home from the MVA turned out to be one friend.

Alex left the house in a huff and John and I listened to the sound of silence. Fortunately, Alex ended up at a friends' house who actually thought driving in an empty parking lot would be a good idea. This friend, we'll call him Robert, is my second adopted son. What a gem. He breathes rationality into Mr. Adamant and helps him find his way back from the Dark Side.

So, as it turns out, my young Anakin Skywalker agreed that driving in an empty parking lot would be a good idea after all. He had his first driving session this past weekend. As expected, he did very well and commented that it's not exactly like driving a golf cart.

There are times, while far and few between, when I miss those poopy diapers.

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