Learner’s Permit (Subtitled: Performance Art at the DMV)

A big motivator in my life is to not have anything happen to my children. I encourage them to stay safe – and be safe – by having frantic, one-sided conversations while they look on wide-eyed.  These conversations always end with me sobbing, “Stay alive!  I will come for you! I will find you!!!  JUST STAY ALIVE!”  Of course I make sure to keep the “stay alive” scenarios in these conversations deliberately vague because I don’t want to scare anyone, all sobbing aside.

So you can just imagine the level of anxiety I’ve been experiencing since Sissy got her learner’s permit.  Because, as we all know, many of the vague “stay alive” scenarios I refer to above involve cars in some way.  Just let your imagination roam free here – as mine does – on what these scenarios could be.  Make sure the scenarios are awful, truly awful, then welcome to my world. 

Sissy successfully completed the newfangled online driving course, then had to go to the DMV and wait in the uncomfortable plastic seats to fill out some forms and take an in-person test.  Finally, her name was called, her picture was taken and she and I were standing at the payment window.

But before they let you escape with your learner’s permit, you have to tell them if you’d like to donate your organs should something…er…happen.  Sissy was all in on that, but a 15 year old can’t actually make that decision for herself according to the great state of Colorado.  So the woman staffing the payment window turned to me and asked me for my permission to donate Sissy’s organs.

We should pause now so I can tell you about Sissy’s big motivator: to not have me cry in public.  And if I must cry in public, she prefers I not be standing next to, or affiliated with her in any visible way.

So you see where this is all going, right? This woman has front-and-centered my biggest fear.  My biggest fear begets Sissy’s biggest fear.  We’re at the head of an entire room filled with people who have nothing else to do but sit in uncomfortable plastic seats waiting for the show to start. 

 -Cue tears-

Sissy, who has a sixth sense about things that might make me cry in public while she’s standing next to me, straightens up when the woman says the stuff about organs and whips her head around to look at me.  Her mouth is an ‘O’ of despair and horror since she knows what she’ll  find.  My eyes have overflowed and tears are rolling down my face.  Luckily my back is to the room so I’m not total Performance Art at the DMV.

The payment window woman is completely appalled  a little taken-aback by my tears and tries to “help.”  She leans close and says in an authoritative voice, “You would rather I ask this question now instead of having to ask it should something happen.”  Ok, WHAT?  What are you even saying?!?  STOP TALKING!! 

But those words are stuck in my head since they can’t make it past the lump in my throat.

Sissy, desperate to make this mother-turned-freakshow stop at all costs, furiously hisses at me to knock it off because I’m a total embarrassment.  Then she leans forward and gently touches the payment window woman’s hand where it’s resting on the counter and whispers, “I don’t think that’s helping.”

Right!  Not helping!  SO. NOT. HELPING!!  We hold a moment of silence while I fight the lump like ya do.  I sleeve-wipe my tears and when my throat has opened enough for words to come out, I give my gruesome permission.  We go on our less-than-merry way with Sissy maintaining at least 20 feet of distance from me and going out a separate door.  She does NOT get to drive home.  If at all.  Ever again.

Well, that was a good time.