…ok. I’ve been thinking about posting something like this for a long time now. I’ve just never done it because thinking about this makes me really stressed out and sad. But I want to get this off my back. I guess I’ll start at the beginning.
I was born at the beginning of July. Most people born close to September get held back a grade, wait until they’re five instead of four to start preschool. For whatever reason, their parents think it would be better for them to wait a year and be older than everyone in their grade instead of younger. My parents’ didn’t hold me back.
To my peers, I was a baby. Age is a big deal in elementary school, and a little bit in middle school. I would get ridiculed a little, teased because I was “too young.” They did the whole “respect your elders” thing. I didn’t really care, because I believed I was the right age for the grade, and the older kids were the ones that were wrong.
To adults, well, they didn’t care. Obviously, in the big scheme of things, being a year older or younger than everyone else doesn’t make much of a difference. From my teachers, parents, and other adult friends I heard a lot of “It’ll only make a difference when everyone starts driving. You’ll be the last one to get your license, but it won’t be that much long after.”
So I made a plan, right then, that I would do everything I could to get my license ON my sixteenth birthday. I would turn sixteen and BAM be driving on my own. Sure, all of my friends would already have their cars and be zooming around town, but we would all start junior year on the same page. I could drive myself to school, same as them.
As my sixteenth birthday grew closer, I started trying to figure out what I needed to do to get my permit. I knew that you had to have your permit six months before you could test for your license, so the latest I could get my permit was January. January was a perfect month for me to do that; it was after marching season was over and I didn’t have after school practice every day for marching band. And it was far enough into the second semester and winterguard season that I wouldn’t have too much too balance. Plus, a sophomore at the time, I knew that I definitely wanted to get drivers ed done this year and not my junior year. I had heard many a rumor that junior year was the hardest. (And it’s true)
Then I ran into some problems. My parents had to sign me up, and I wasn’t proactive about doing the other work myself. There were things that I could have gotten done that I didn’t. I expected them to do all the work for me. I think about the months leading up to April 2015, when I finally got my permit. I’ve blamed my parents for not getting it done in time. But really, it’s my permit, I should have taken care of it myself, should have been more responsible.
We couldn’t find my birth certificate. And by we, I mean my mom. And then we couldn’t find my social security stuff. There were about ten different problems. We didn’t find an actually drivers ed thing to sign up for until late, and it was online so there were lessons I had to do, all before I got my permit. I didn’t finish these too quickly. I was already frustrated, because I knew at that point there was nothing I could do to get my license when I turned sixteen.
I took the test in April, got my permit. I was mad at my parents and didn’t hide it very well. My parents told me I would test in October, a whole three months after my birthday, and should get over it. I told them that was in the middle of marching season and wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t about to miss practice for drive times and there was no way I could miss school for a drivers test. I knew I was going to take Physics and Precal, and that both of them would be hard. There was no way I could miss an ounce of classroom instruction.
I had to do online class things, and then drive times. My mom decided that my dad would take my driving. I was fine with that, at first. My dad doesn’t plan, doesn’t prepare, and consequently had no idea what he was supposed to be teaching me. We didn’t even really start driving until about November.
I was almost done with the online lessons and decided that we ccould knock out all the driving real fast, maybe over Christmas break. I started telling my friends that I woas going to get my license over Christmas, or right after Christmas. I believed that I would.
But my parents could never take me driving. There were my siblings to put to bed or something, my dad had work and when I wanted to drive he was either gone or at home, relaxing, playing video games, or watching football. My mom was too busy making dinner or doing laundry. I’m the oldest so it’s not like I had a sibling that could take me. (had to be a licensed adult). They thought we could go driving on school days or regular weekends, but I had a crapload of homework. Junior year is hard. And I knew it was going to be hard, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle something like drivers ed on top of school. That’s why I wanted to get my license at the very least before junior year started, that’s why I knew that if I didn’t get it by my sixteenth birthday there was no promise that I would get it at all until I turned seventeen.
I blamed my parents for all of this, for the embarrassment I felt when I had to ask my friends for a ride and when they asked me when I would be getting my license. I blamed them for how overwhelmed I felt, for the horrible nights I had to go straight to bed after doing homework and drivers ed and had no time to read or write or just decompress from all the work I did that day. I would go to bed crying, freaking out, and felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about how frustrated I was, because my friends all had their licenses, and I was mad at my parents, so obviously I couldn’t talk to them.
We started driving once a week, Sunday nights. I finished the lesson portion of drivers ed and just had to get all my hours in. It got pushed to one every other week, becasue I had competitions for winterguard and would be doing my homework on Sunday nights.Then we were only driving once a month ish. I haven’t had a driving practice in the last three weeks. And most times, when I ask my parents, they say they’re too busy. (I didn’t get to go driving tonight either, because my dad was too tired.)
They don’t get the extent of my frustration, how mad I am that I don’t have my drivers license. It’s a huge unmet expectation, an unfulfilled dream. One that I had been planning for all my life, practically. And they obviously don’t think its a big deal. But I think it’s a big deal. Twenty year old me won’t care that I didn’t get my license the day I turned sixteen, heck, seventeen year old me won’t care, but I care now. The fact that I don’t have it makes me feel like a failure, it’s a like a nagging voice in the back of my head, a constant reminder that I am not an independent person. If I wanted to do anything, I have to ask my friends for a ride or ask my mom. Because I can’t drive means I’m more like a kid than I am like an adult, and in the teenage world, when in everything you do you fight to be treated like an adult and not like a kid, this is an awful thing.
I still don’t have my license. And that fact drives (hah drives) me crazy. I don’t know when I’ll get it. I could fake the last few hours I have left to do and just go take the test right now, but I don’t get constant practice and don’t think I would be prepared. Next month I will have had my permit for a year. A year. And most people have it six months. Ahh.
I’ve never been one of those kids whose like “oh I hate my parents they’re just so mean they don’t understand me wahhhh.” But when I would try to explain my frustration to them they would just roll their eyes or laugh it off or tell me to get over it and stop being so grumpy. It’s not like I didn’t try to communicate. I did. Just not well enough, I guess.
I’ve past the point of angry. It just makes me depressed now. I want to be able to drive. But I can’t.
On my sixteenth birthday, like every birthday for all of my siblings, the presents were set out on the fireplace. We open presents after dinner, so those presents sat there all day. There was one in a weird shaped box. It was big and circular, like a hat box. On top of it was this little white matchbox car. It said “happy” on one side and “birthday” on the other. It was intended to be, I don’t know, funny or symbolic like “Hey sixteen is a big deal! Congrats!” but it was just another reminder that the thing I really wanted, I couldn’t have. I think later that night I threw that little car across my room.
One of the things I hate the most is unmet expectations. When my friends let me down, when my parents let me down, and when I let myself down. It makes me feel as if there’s a black hole inside my stomach, sucking me into nothingness from the inside.