By Shannon Mckinnon

When my father decided to get his driver?s license, he went to the government building and said, ?I want a driver?s license.? They replied, ?Okay.? He drove home a licensed man.

When I got my license, I had to take a quiz (with a pencil) and then two weeks later I returned for the driving exam. The examiner and I went for a quick spin around the provincial building and that was that. I left a fully licensed young woman. The next day I filled my mother?s Chevy Nova with all my friends, and off we went to cruise the mean streets of Dawson Creek.

For my sons to get their BC driver?s license, they have to take a quiz (on a computer) in order to get a red B magnet to stick to their bumper, warning the world that they are Learning. For the next 12 months they must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver 25 years of age or older and have no more than two passengers. After a year they go back in to do the driving exam to get their green novice magnet. They must display this green N for two years and are limited to one passenger, unless they?re family members. After two years they go back and take the driving examiner out for a second drive to get their full license. And that?s all there is to it. Simple. Only three years later they?ll be a licensed man.

Most kids take lessons as well. My oldest refused, leaving it to me to teach him how to drive. My youngest was often in the back-seat while his brother and I careened about the city streets screaming at each other about the importance of proper lessons, avoiding left hand turns and why thinking he should go the same direction around the traffic circle as everyone else did not mean I was being uptight. When my youngest turned 16 he came to me and said, ?I?ve been thinking about you teaching me how to drive and I want to take the driving lessons. All of them.?

The dust had scarcely settled from my happy dance when his driving instructor informed me that we would still need to practice. Lots. To add insult to injury, last week he actually suggested I ride along in the back-seat so I could see what my son needed to work on. My son took it all remarkably in stride for a 17 year old who not only was about to be seen driving all over town in a dorky little car with the words STUDENT DRIVER emblazoned across it, but now had to be seen in the student car with his mother riding along in the back-seat. I was bemoaning the situation to my friend Brenda, certain that this meant the kid was never going to learn how to drive. I mean, how many parents get asked to ride along for the lessons?

How bad of a driver do you have to be for that to happen? Brenda, who has been a passenger in my vehicle on more than one occasion, leaned forward and gently said, ?Shannon, maybe you were asked to ride along, because it isn?t your son that the instructor thinks needs the lessons.? It?s like when you?re alone in the forest in a thunderstorm in the middle of the night, stumbling into trees, and suddenly there?s a flash of lightening and everything becomes clear as day.