Anxiety Rears it’s Ugly Head: Why I Hate Teaching My Kids to Drive
I hate teaching my kids to drive. That’s no secret. I’ve written about it here numerous times. But I had a sudden epiphany the other day. It isn’t about the driving. It isn’t about getting in a moving vehicle with a teenager who has no idea what they are doing (as crazy as that is and let’s be honest, it’s CRAZY).
It has to do with me.
I’ll be honest, Apollo’s recent concussion shook me up. It’s a horrible thing to see a child knocked out and disoriented. Rushing Apollo to an emergency room brings back floods of traumatic memories for me. Some of the worst days of my life have been spent in a hospital with my youngest child. I have seen fear in the doctor’s eyes as they care for my son. You don’t forget that look.
Those feelings run deep.
Apollo’s concussion brought back fear and anxiety that has retreated the last few years as Apollo’s health has improved. And I suddenly realized why I hate teaching my kids to drive.
Why I Hate Teaching My Kids to Drive
When Adalia was 16 or 17 and still just had her permit she was driving Apollo and myself down to Seattle. It was a great way for her to gain experience while knocking off a few of her required 50 hours of driving.
This was before Apollo had his g-tube and much of my day was taken up with trying to get just one more bite of food into his body. On this day we had stopped at McDonald’s and gotten Apollo french fries (which he loved). He was in his rear-facing car seat while Adalia drove and I sat in the passenger seat. I was passing fries back one or two at a time when I suddenly realized Apollo was choking.
We were going seventy miles per hour down the freeway with my not-yet-licensed teenager at the wheel. We had just passed a “rest stop ahead” sign. I had to make a split second decision and I chose to tell my daughter to floor it so we could get to the rest stop as quickly as possible. As soon as we pulled off I grabbed Apollo out of his car seat and performed the Heimlich maneuver. It was a good ten or fifteen minutes before Apollo was breathing smoothly enough and we were calm enough to resume our drive.
Anxiety and the Impossible Choice
It dawned on me the other day that the reason I feel so much anxiety about teaching my kids to drive comes from the day Apollo choked while Adalia was driving. I had to decide whether to have Adalia pull over on the freeway or floor it to get to the rest stop. Climbing in the back and yanking a choking toddler out of a moving vehicle wasn’t a valid option.
None of them seemed like good choices. I felt the utter helplessness that I have experienced over and over in Apollo’s short life. And now, those feelings are somehow connected to and mixed up with teaching my younger kids to drive.
And it sucks.
I’ll be perfectly honest with you, as I’ve been keeping Apollo from climbing and jumping as his head heals I have had to fight the overwhelming urge to wrap him up in bubble wrap and squash the active little boy instincts. Everything seems potentially dangerous at the moment.
Thankfully, I am aware these feelings are stemming from anxiety, not from the world we live in. My fear is bigger than the actual danger. It is a state of hypervigilance from years of stress and secondary trauma.
Once again, I am reminding myself, it’s okay to not be okay.