"Mom, I'm a better driver than you!" my teenage son yells as he makes a U-turn that makes me feel as if I'm on a whirly ride at the fair, instead of a passenger in my own car.
"You took that u-turn too fast, Blake," I respond.
"Oh my God, mom, I can't wait until I have my own car and I don't have to hear you screamin' in my ear the whole time," he says.
I can't wait either. That is, if I survive.
Sure, my son does alright, or I wouldn't let him put in his hours behind the wheel while I sweat off the stress of nerves.
But it's hard for me to let go of control, especially when navigating Camino Tassajara in Danville.
I secretly hope for a car like the driver's training car, you know the one with your own set of brakes on the passenger's side.
It's gut wrenching to know you have abandoned all hope of stopping suddenly if Fido decides to cross the street in front of your car.
"What are you doing?" my son says with an attitude, when my right foot shoots forward at every red light.
I can't help it. I want to brake sooner than him and I hear my mother's voice when she used to tell me, "you need to brake sooner!"
It's a vicious cycle we parents go through as we find ourselves trudging through the same words of mud that we slung at our parents years before.
I swear there are a hundred new gray hairs I didn't have before Blake got his learner's permit.
He imagined driving on his exact 16th birthday, but was surprised to learn that I'd be holding his first report card as ransom, for his keys to freedom.
"Oh, and the minute your grades go below a C-, the keys are mine again," I say with more authority than I've felt since I was a hall monitor in sixth grade.
Roll of eyes. (I am so used to them, by now, I can see them from all sides of my heads — it's a talent we moms have.)
I try and text or keep myself busy sometimes as he drives, so I'm not constantly raising my voice at every detail of how I think he needs to do something better.
I am reasonable. I know better. I know I need to guide with love and patience. But I am unable. I fail in this department of parenting.
I just keep hoping that my breathing gets better and deeper and his driving gets slower and more cautious.
I worry that if he has this much attitude about driving (he knows how to do it all), that when he gets behind the wheel all by himself it's going to be a potential disaster I won't be able to live with.
I remind myself that every parent I've spoken with feels the same way. And it's that ever-so-difficult task of letting go.
I just want him to do it within the speed limit and with both hands on the wheel.