Doing Time at the DMV






F135. The robot at the DMV, cleverly disguised as a woman, assigned that number to my High School Kid on Friday. Actually, we spoke to her twice that afternoon. Note to self: bring original birth certificate, not a copy, to avoid pointless trips to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

F133, Window Twelve chimed an automated female voice. My eyes flicked up to the screen. G100, Window Two. H128, Window Five. While I waited I held Marlee Matlin’s memoir I’ll Scream Later in my lap, but how could I read? The real story starred my fifteen and a half-year old son hurtling down the Coming of Age path.

F134, Window Two. G101, Window Five. H129, Window Eight. The countdown made me squirm. Each new broadcast brought car keys closer to my son’s grasp and his bum nearer to the driver’s seat.

At that moment we were seated on hard, white plastic chairs with a hundred or so fellow Angelinos. Nearby, a young couple whispered excitedly to one another; a man played video games on his phone; a toddler swung his legs back and forth, bored.

I wasn’t bored. G102, Window One. H130, Window Four. F135, Window Ten.  Bingo. I nudged my son who was focused on the 2012 Drivers Handbook.

“Let’s go,” I said. “Window ten.”

“Wow, I didn’t even hear them call our number,” he said.

As we stood at the counter, more numbers chimed in the background like a game of Bingo. Present proper paperwork, read eye chart, fork over $31 dollars. You win.

The man behind the counter told my son to place his right thumb against the glass top of a small box to record his print. Huh, that’s new.

He pointed to yet another line. That’s not new. But before I could say cheese, my kid had scrawled his signature on the permit and slid in front of the camera.

“Smile,” I said. He humored me and grinned. Against all odds, he took a decent Drivers License photo (something that has eluded me for decades). Then he moved to the last line to take the written test.

That’s when his smile faded. The area is restricted and its kind of like watching your kid go to school on the first day of kindergarten. You can’t go with. They go it alone.

Gulp. That’s when it struck me. The Coming of Age path image is all wrong. Your teenager doesn’t just go down a road, passing milestones until he or she magically morphs into an Adult. It’s more like playing Bingo. Experiences fill in the spaces of your life and each new one is part of a pattern. No one goes in the same order or gets there at the same time. Part of you is a kid. Part of you is an adult.

“You passed, dude!” the friendly man told my son. My son’s face lit up. Another piece to add to the board.

Author Description

Cynthia Baseman

Cynthia Baseman is the author of 'Love, Mom: A Mother's Journey from Loss to Hope.' She writes about motherhood, the environment and education.

There are 5 comments. Add yours

  1. 28th June 2012 | susan kolko says: Reply
    You hit the nail on the head ! B-I-N-G-O it is. The problem with this game is the complete randomness of the order and the inability for a parent to rest easy - EVER.
  2. 28th June 2012 | Franny says: Reply
    Wait til the Driving Test part! You must do a Part Two - my first breezed thru it probably due to being so aggressive and confident --my second just failed - what? how is that possible with so many actually horrible drivers running red lights and stop signs in LA all the time -many of his sophomore friends have failed the first time I hear -- too cautious trying to do everything right and a DMV person who is super strict. Stay tuned and good luck! Franny
  3. 27th June 2012 | Anonymous says: Reply
    As is recall, i cried every year i drove Sunny to school on the 1st. day of school then one day ...she drove herself .. and i remember thinking... what happened?? she was becoming independent.... funny how that works. sandy
  4. 27th June 2012 | M says: Reply
    How true is the statement that "time marches on". Watching our children growing and experienceing events llike applying for a drivers permit makes us realize how precious these silly moments are. Good writing keep it up. Mamacita
    • 27th June 2012 | Cynthia Baseman says: Reply
      From one mom to another...we're all in the same club. And it's a privilege to be in it.

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