May 5, 2009

Car Talk

For all I know, Jeff came out of the womb worshipping cars. Back in 1996, we brought teddy bears and a few small vehicles with us to Russia for the boys. The bears are still here, neglected on the shelf, we still have those cars too, somewhere in the many bins that hold Jeff's enormous toy car collection.

Jeff has attended the Auto Show at McCormick Place annually, which for him is Christmas, Hanukkah and his birthday all rolled into one. Invariably, one of the manufacturers' representatives asks Jeff his age and then helpfully does the math for him. "Only eight more years until you can drive!" "Six more years for you." "Why, you'll be driving in two years." I smile wanly.

Now Jeff is conducting his own countdown. Driver's Education is offered annually at his school during the second semester. The arrival of the cars this February was well-noted. "Next year, it'll be me!" A number of his classmates who are sixteen and seventeen took the class and now, according to Jeff, have their licences.

I have tried to be consistent in my response. "You must pass a written test just to get your learner's permit," I remind him. "All drivers need insurance. Have you discussed that with Dad?"

I confess it's all a shallow ploy on my part. I don't know if Jeff will ever be able to drive. Part of me hopes that he will, because he wants to so badly and because it's a normal desire to do so. For all I know, Jeff is so motivated by cars that he would be a careful and conscientious driver. Maybe. But it's just as believable that he will never be able to drive. Can he pass the written test? Does he have the focus, attention and judgement to be a safe driver? We will find out soon enough.

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