“Can I drive?”

The big boy has his learner’s permit and is taking driver’s education. Because my husband claims to be “patience challenged,” ride-along duties fall to me.

student driverScary stuff.

My son is 17 — a little late to the learning-driver game. When I was his age, I was ferrying carloads of teenagers in our wood-paneled station wagon and riding shotgun in a friend’s souped-up Firebird.

I felt so old.

He seems so young.

So far, he’s a careful, conscientious driver. But I break out in a sweat when I picture him on the DC beltway. My stomach knots up when I imagine him on Interstate 95. Heck, my mother bear rears her ferocious head when we’re navigating our neighborhood streets.

It isn’t him I worry about.

It’s the other drivers.

So far, we have had a white Ford truck tailgate us through our neighborhood streets, gunning its engine and whipping around us when we turn onto a side street. We’ve had a sports car pass us on the incline of a 30 mph two-lane country road. We’ve had a middle-aged man scream at us in a parking lot (he was backing up just as we passed him; I honked our car horn), zip around us, then stomp on his brakes and come to a stop right in front of us.

I guess he was trying to teach us a lesson.

In all these cases, my son was driving at the posted speed limit and obeying the rules of the road.

What is wrong with people? What makes a grown man, a grown woman turn into a wild-eyed monster when they get behind the wheel? My son’s driving teacher — who is a policeman — says he witnesses the same behavior when he’s out with his students. (And his teaching car is bright yellow with STUDENT DRIVER plastered all over it.)

I’ve ordered a raft of “Student Driver … Please Be Patient” stickers from Amazon. I can’t wait until they arrive, yet I’m doubtful they’ll make any difference.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to practice. He’ll continue to learn. I’ll continue to worry …

… and I’m going to start recording and reporting license plate numbers.

Other drivers can be wild-eyed monsters.

I can be a mother bear.

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