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Monday, January 12, 2009


Adam is my child most like me in temperament. There are some physical characteristics that only he and I share, as well: earlobes connected at the base, eyes that squintily disappear when we laugh (and sometimes when we smile), and hand shape (square palms). We have similar senses of humor, but I don't believe the boy shares the tiniest percent of my logic. He has an affinity for both math and language, as I do, and we both are lamentable when it comes to world geography. I'm can guess with a 10 - 15% margin of error, what he's thinking, planning, or doing, which has led Adam to believe that I have some sort of supernatural powers. Perhaps he's right.

Adam turned fifteen this month. He's old enough to obtain a driving permit. He had thought I would just take him to the DMV and allow him to take the test, and then he could start driving. He should have known better.

My children have been raised with the knowledge that privileges are earned and can be removed, should irresponsibility in the area of any specific privilege manifest itself. Adam forgot that driving is a privilege. He forgot that in order for me to trust him behind the wheel of my car, I have to be able to trust him in all areas of his regular life. And he has to show me that he is able to be responsible for himself before I'll allow him to drive--which in essence makes him responsible for the safety of himself, passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers (I know you're all wishing that you had been present for this particular imparting of information in lecture form). It is unfortunate that Adam forgot, because now he has a trial period in which he must show himself worthy of obtaining a driving permit. 

Things Adam must do before I take him to get the coveted item:
1. Get himself up in the morning--fifteen-year-olds who are responsible enough to drive, are also responsible to learn how to set an alarm and get up when it goes off. This item is also accompanied by the understanding that the early morning arousal will be timely enough to get Adam to seminary on time. When he has done this for three weeks, the prerequisite will be filled. However, if at any time after the permit has been obtained, I feel that he has stopped fulfilling this responsibility in a timely manner, the permit will be surrendered and all driving privileges suspended until I determine he has acted in such a way that would prove he is willing to take upon himself the responsibility once again.
2. Stop eating in his bedroom. We have two rooms in which it is permissible to eat: The dining room, and the family room. We eat occasionally in the family room if we watch a family movie during dinner, or if we have a snack while we play games or watch television. Once monthly, during group lessons, he is allowed to eat in my piano studio with the other students when I serve food to them. Eating in bedrooms is strictly prohibited for the following reasons:
a) My dishes start to disappear which is a source of incredible frustration.
b) Food trash goes into the bedroom waste basket and begins to decay, causing an awful smell which I cannot tolerate.
c) People identify eating with specific rooms--and when they enter those rooms, they feel an urge to eat regardless of whether or not they are hungry (if you don't believe me, walk into your kitchen right now and notice where your mind wanders--it will immediately wonder what you have to munch on in your cupboard or fridge). Eating should not be associated with bedrooms. Sleeping should be, and homework and relaxation, but not food. While this habit has nothing to do with driving, per se, it has enormous impact on my ability to trust that while he is learning to drive, Adam will not disregard my instructions. If he has difficulty obeying house rules, chances are he'll try to disobey the rules of the road--unacceptable from this instructor who will be riding in the passenger seat.
3. Maintain good grades (As and Bs only are acceptable) and plan to get a job to help offset the cost of insurance and gas consumption, vehicle maintenance and repair. My whole focus in raising my children is to help them learn independence. If they believe Mom and Dad will provide for all their needs indefinitely, that's a step in the wrong direction. If they wish to have driving privileges, they will need to shoulder driving responsibility. This includes fiscal responsibility. 

When presented with these guidelines last month, Adam enthusiastically agreed they were reasonable and well within his ability to achieve. Then the month progressed. Adam refused to get himself up for seminary, his grades overall were fine, but he persisted in getting Cs in health and teetering on the low B edge in English (because he's certain he can do everything at the last minute--bad idea). The immediate consequence for eating in his bedroom is one dishwasher loading for each utensil and dish I find in his room. He currently owes me five loads of clean dishes. 

I tightened the screws this week. I told him that at 6:30 every morning I would be doing one of the following: 
1. Driving Adam to seminary because he was ready on time (on his own steam, not because I awoke him and made him move).
2. Going for a run because I get an extra 10 minutes since Adam chose to stay in bed and not get ready.
He called my bluff this morning. At 6:25 Adam rolled out of bed. At 6:29 I called everyone for prayer. Adam blustered that he still had one minute and could definitely be ready in time. I rolled my eyes at him, said the prayer and got on my treadmill, telling Adam and Tabitha that I'd be driving kids to school at 7:30. 

At 6:40 Adam called, "See you, Mom! Have a good day!" And then he walked to seminary in a snowstorm. I've decided, since he got himself up and made it to seminary sort of on time, that I'll let him count today. After all, I have to make some concessions. I actually do want him to learn to drive.


  1. Here! Here! I agree with you whole-heartedly on everything.

    Well, except one small point. I do not believe the bedroom should be associated with homework. Homework is, in itself, a stressful and hence non-relaxing activity. I prefer that homework remain in the office.

    Granted, not everyone has an office at home, but that's my feeling in regard to this.

  2. Actually, I agree with you on the homework thing, but since I teach piano lessons in my home, bedrooms are the only places with doors (barring bathrooms, and I really do prefer that they don't do homework in the bathroom). Even our office is open to the noise of budding musicians--hence the need to do homework in the bedrooms. We've tried to make it as comfortable for them as possible by setting up desk space, and they can word process on their computers, but online access is only available in the office.

  3. Ahh. I like the satellite-office system you've set up. At least they have a designated space. Which is good since homework in the bathroom just sounds like a really bad idea.

    Oh. And look . . . My word verification is an actual word for a change: diction.

  4. Awesome mom, you are. I need to bookmark this particular post for my oldest when he gets to be that age. I'm afraid he's going to be difficult along those same lines. (sigh) And yes, it's the same son who got the contract written up for braces. I suspect we'll be needing another one for driving.