You knew it had to happen sometime. He had been reluctant to get his permit for quite a while. He could have gotten one at age 15, but he didn't want to be so "responsible." It's ok for him to watch five younger siblings when I have to go out... that's not overwhelming. At least three of the siblings are autistic and have special needs. That's not overwhelming.
Driving? He just wasn't ready to do that.
When he came back from China, I had his passport. I didn't want to put it back into the safety deposit box without getting his driver's permit. Why? Well, G's friend Q (you remember Q!) got his permit already. If Q can drive, Patrick really needs to be on the road, too.
Patrick was "ok" with getting his permit once I told him I thought it was time. It wasn't even really an issue either way. He studied the book for about half a day and came up with a million odd questions like, what do you do if you shouldn't pass on a hill, but a car is parked in your lane and blah blah etc.
I'm sure the answer is somewhere in the book... (So what do you DO? I told him I had no clue.) For that matter, I live in Missouri. I drive according to "avoid potholes and oncoming traffic" and know that this "turn signal" thing is very theoretical. You have to guess at the inner motivations of the other drivers on the road because they don't signal these. Yellow lights are to be driven through, as are the first 5 seconds of the red light.
Another really great thing about Missouri driving is the clear and easy way you can get a license. Ohhh... I won't eeeven get into the TWO YEARS worth of personal paperwork they seem to want to register a car... but the licenses seem to be issued in some sort of secret system. There are "fee" offices and "motor vehicle" offices and "license bureaus" and no, they're not all the same thing.
Did you want to call ahead of time and find out what to do? HA! HAHAHAHAHA! It's all automated, and not only that, often contains faulty information. You must show up, "take a number," and wait. The first place we went to told us to go to a "testing station" across the stinkin' metro area. Wayyy out close to the 'hood. Ok. We do this and had his passport looked at and he took a test while we sat in a smelly waiting room and watched a video loop over and over, featuring a state trooper, accidents, and Missouri state law prohibiting teens from getting boozed up, carrying more than three unrelated teens in a vehicle, or driving after the magical hour of 1 a.m.. Of course he passed just fine.
Permit time, right??
We had to go back to the original license bureau...the one that sent us out near the hood for the "test" part of the process in the first place. No, the place we got the "test" done doesn't "process" licenses... silly Mrs. C for asking that. Sigh. More long driving, this time to bring the paper with Patrick's picture and info typed on it. Take a number and sit. Blehhhhhh. You can imagine how impressed the small children were with this process.
I will say that I liked the fact that the permit cost me a whopping $3.50, even if it did take nearly four hours. But Patrick did NOT appreciate that the State of Missouri empowers parents to take away the permit by law at any time. If they so choose, they can even sign a paper PERMANENTLY revoking all license rights until the child's 18th birthday and the state will honour that.
Oh, yeah. Patrick was outraged. Too bad. I told him that that was a great idea, and that if I ever catch him drinking and driving that that's exactly what I would do. I don't think that would happen (or I wouldn't let him even test for his permit), but I think it's important to lay out those parameters wayyyy before there are misunderstandings.
Patrick is still mad. He thinks he should have more rights than that. I told him parents *usually* look out for the rights of their children, but yes, we can make crappy decisions on his behalf. I didn't homeschool him, though, when he expressed his interest to remain in public school. I could have. You know, I do a lot of things differently because I know how he feels about them. That's just common decency to make allowances for our teens as they age. I'm hoping he'll make allowances for me as I age, too. :)