Fifteen and a Half

“Dad, do you need to go to 7-11?”
“Dad, do you need to go to the post office?”
“Dad, do you need to go to the store?”

Guess who turned fifteen-and-a-half last week and got his learner’s permit?

(This is a staged photo. Mason will never drive the STI.)

When Mason turned fourteen he got a license to drive a motorcycle, and for roughly a year and a half he’s been riding to school and around town on two wheels. I grew up riding motorcycles, as did my dad, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch your kid leave the house on one. Having him surrounded by two tons of metal and airbags will actually be a relief.

The process of obtaining a license has changed since I originally got mine. To get a learner’s permit in Oklahoma today, you need to have completed (or be enrolled in) a driver’s education course and provide proof that you are enrolled in school, among other documents. When you turn sixteen and have had a learner’s permit for six months, teens can then apply for a intermediate license. It’s similar to a driver’s license, but with a few restrictions. With an intermediate license, teens can only drive between 4:30 a.m and 9 p.m., and can only carry one passenger that does not live in their home. To obtain that license, teens must be enrolled in school or have their GED. After another six month period, assuming the teen did not acquire any traffic convictions, they can apply for an “unrestricted class D license.” Each license sets you back about $40. (Link: DMV.org)

Even though Mason has been mobile for over a year, “four wheels” is new. His stops are abrupt, his acceleration is uneven, and his turns are inconsistent. That being said, the second trip was better than the first, and the third was better than the second. He knows the rules of the road, but being behind the wheel of a bigger and heavier vehicle takes getting used to.

Riding in the passenger seat of your own car is a bit like riding in the front car of a roller coaster at the fair, if it were being operated by someone not old enough to operate it. The pit in your stomach never fully subsides. Like the roller coaster, you tell yourself nothing bad will happen, but you give the safety equipment an extra tug, just in case.

“Dad, do you need a ride to the convenient store?”

And, we’re off!

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1 comment to Fifteen and a Half

  • Paul in AZ

    Never is a long time, but I know EXACTLY where you’re coming from. My suggestion? Get him a Delorean. They’re slow and he’ll have to learn to work on cars.

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