I guess the title and the picture already give away the ending (brilliant writing here!), but it's a good story anyway.
Last fall Olivia turned sixteen. It was glorious and beautiful.
With one small snag.
She failed her driving test. Three times, actually.
The first time, I took her to the DMV and five hours later they called her number for the road test. She bounced out of the room, but returned, downcast and tearful.
“What happened?” I asked.
She shrugged, mystified. “I did so good,” she bawled.
I retrieved her score sheet, and in addition to missing all her turn signals and coasting through a few stop signs, it said in all caps, “ALMOST HIT A BICYCLIST!!!” This sentence had been written with such force, there were holes punched in the paper. I pointed this out to Olivia. She said, “Oh yeah, but I didn’t see him.”
Oh, okay then.
No problem. We believe in second chances. All I had to do was get up enough love and courage to sit in the waiting room of hell one more time. I am convinced that hell is exactly patterned after the DMV. I've really got to be better. Or do some repenting. Or both. Anyway, I girded up my loins and she tried again. More tears. Lots of tears. This time she ran a red light and failed to stay in her lane.
"Olivia!" I said, completely confounded.
"But, I'm a good driver," she insisted.
I explained that the DMV disagreed. And theirs is the only opinion that counts.
So then I did what I do to solve all my problems. I threw money at it. (David is all too familiar with this problem-solving technique. The more problems I have, the farther away retirement becomes. We have no plans for retirement. Ever. Because I have problems!) I hired someone to give her driving lessons. They drove all over Phoenix. They drove the freeways, they drove downtown, they drove in traffic, they parallel parked, they practiced stopping and blind spots and staying in the proper lane. They drove and drove and drove, and she earned top marks. “She’s a really good driver,” they said. "She's completely to ready to drive independently."
Ya. I've heard.
I did then what only true love could make me do and went back to the DMV. But after another five hours, she failed to yield to oncoming traffic when she was turning left. Which is an automatic failure. And scary, too. The girl administering the road test was clearly shaken. She said that next time, Olivia could request a different road test administrator. Please, please ask for a different road test administrator! is what her eyes said. Olivia was devastated.
But I was just mad. I told David I was never going back. It was his turn.
We let it sit for a couple of months. Because, really, there is only so much you can take.
This morning, before it was light, while I was administering cold medicine to Ethan and tucking him back into bed, David and Olivia left the house to stand in line in the cold at the DMV. David is made for jobs like this. It requires all the things I don't have: patience, calmness, tranquility regardless of circumstance, unconditional love. I don't know why we didn't assign it to him in first place. Play to your strengths, people!
And wonder of wonders, three hours later I received a text: She can DRIVE!!!!!!!! All caps. Eight exclamation points.
We earned every one.
I spent the rest of the day nursing Ethan and making lemon pie.
Because it is time for pie. And I am playing to my strengths.