Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Rules are rules and I'm a bitch

Wild will be 16 in a few short months, and as everyone knows, with that comes the opportunity to earn the privilege to operate a 2,000 pound killing machine.

And I'm having to stick to my guns about the rule I laid down about four years ago regarding her driving privileges. See, driving is a privilege, not a right, and teens have to earn that privilege, in my opinion. That privilege is earned with As and Bs on the report card as well as maintaining those grades while I'm the one forking out the dough for a significantly increased car insurance bill. Those privileges are also earned by showing a tad bit of responsibility for chores and personal obligations. She has fulfilled neither aspect in an effort to earn driving privileges.

Yesterday she brought home a note from the school informing us that we have to pony up $70 by next week so she can take the driving portion of driver's ed in January. The $70 includes a fee for getting a driver's license upon successful completion of the course, as well as a vision exam. Wait? Vision exam? Isn't that why I'm paying for vision insurance? Seems like a scam to me.

I reminded her of the A/B Rule. This is not the first time over the course of the last few years (and even more frequently over the past couple of months) that I've reminded her of the A/B Rule. She was pissed at me yesterday when I brought up the A/B Rule because surprise! Surprise! She doesn't have As and Bs. Not even close. She doesn't bring homework home and I've seen her studying perhaps twice the entire school year. Obviously, not much effort being made in that particular personal responsibility department

End of story, right? Bad grades = no driving/driver's license. Seems like a pretty simple equation to me.

But apparently it's not that simple. I'm having to be the bad guy in all of this and I'm starting to get the feeling that the A/B Rule is about to be tossed out by Hubby. No, he hasn't come right out and said it, but he's made some comments about it and that's the feeling I get. Needless to say, I'm NOT a happy camper about this particular turn of events.

We've discussed this, and I thought we agreed on the A/B Rule. But I guess I was wrong. And I get to be the bad guy bitch once again. Yay me.


Lynnette Labelle said...

I know how you feel. Well, sort of. My twins are only 2 1/2, but there have been times when my husband thought I was being a little too strict with them. I stuck to my guns because I know I'm doing the right thing. I think your rules for her to get a licence are great. Too many kids are driving recklessly and killing themselves or other innocent people. If she can't be responsible in other parts of her life, how are you supposed to believe she won't be talking on the phone, putting on make-up or turning around to talk to whoever's in the back seat, when she's supposed to be driving? Good luck with that!

MP said...

How about looking like a good guy and saying: No D's and F's ?? Will that be moving to the middle a little??

I agree with you though that you should stick to your guns... I was one of the last to get my drivers license out of my friends..cause my parents wanted me to go to the summer school driving course, I was 3 months shy of 17 before I got mine and it was great, my friends drove me everywhere. Make sure you make her pay for her own gas!!

goat roper said...

She knows the rules, I am sure she will be offered drivers ed again next year. A private heart to heart with Dad perhaps?

Krista said...

You know her and her potential. If she's not being responsible with school then how's she going to be responsible with a car? If she was home studying every night and still had a C average that would be the time to bend the rules.
Good luck on this one. Perhaps if Dad doesn't want to be the "bad parent" she could get a job and pay for her own insurance? No money = no car privileges? I'm pretty sure even a part part time job would be enough to pay the increase.

Ninja Of The Mundane said...

I wonder if your husband is feeling some "Biological Mom" guilt.

Either way, it really ruins you as an authority figure to be undermined by your husband (if indeed that's what happens). When parents can't or won't show a united front on major parenting issues, kids will ruthlessly exploit that fissure and take every opportunity to drive a wedge between mom and dad. I've done it, and every kid I knew when I was a kid did it. It's not malevolence; it's pure instinct.

You and your husband need to have a long hard talk about this before Wild gets issued an official ruling. If he overrules you, you're toast. You'll have no valid standing as an authority figure with Wild ever, and she'll know it, and she'll laugh in your face anytime you ever try to assert parental prerogative with her again.

I see both sides in this particular issue. One the one hand, the A/B standard is eminently reasonable. On the other, the pragmatic reality is that if you clamp down too hard on Wild, you risk seeing her act out in some wildly inappropriate way — running away, taking up with some dirtbag boyfriend just because he has wheels, pitching tantrums and silent treatments around the house. Kids who turn 16 and get drivers' licenses usually get access to cars, and to deny one kid something all the other kids get will — right or wrong — lead to more tension, anger, acting about and rebellion than either of you may be willing to handle.

And don't underestimate the power of playing the biological-mom guilt card. That could be a HUGE factor at play.

All that being said ... any developments?

Nancy @ World Wide Rolves said...

Rob's Aunt and Uncle had that same rule - I think I mentioned it on your BND blog. Daughter number three was only a smidge away from the good driver discount and so, missed the opportunity to take her driving test (I think they let her go through with the class at her 'designated' time) once she'd completed all the necessary things. The next school quarter ending approached and she was still just a smidge away.

She's a good student, and was studying like crazy - even pulled an older cousin in to help her with the biology studying (the pesky grade that was holding her up), but her lack of a license was beginning to be more of a hindrance to Mom and Dad than her grades. They agreed to go by the approaching mid-term grades, which were looking good, and let her take the driving exam.

I understand your point about her personal responsibility about things - that if she can't show you in other areas, how do you know she can handle the responsibilities of a vehicle? If she were knocking herself out studying and still getting mediocre grades, it would be a different story.

I wish you luck!

Jenn said...

Lynette...that's exactly it. If she can't buckle down and get good grades/show a bit of responsibility, how do I know she's not going to get behind the wheel and kill someone because she was too busy chit-chatting on the phone or just not paying attention?

MP...I'd have no problem moving to the middle a bit if I knew she was putting effort into her grades. Which she isn't. She is a solid A/B student when she tries. Right now, she's not trying. Not a whit. She will definitely be paying for her own gas and a portion of her insurance, too. I believe parents do no favors for a kid when they just hand stuff to them at this age.

Goat Roper...Hubby and I talked about it last night and after much discussion and back and forth, I think we are back on the same ground. Which is good!

Krista...I agree. Once she earns those privileges (and she is entirely capable of meeting the requirements!) she will also have to pay for the privilege of driving. Heck, I worked my butt off to buy my first car...I even biked to my job all summer long to earn enough to buy a beater. I had to pay for the gas, maintenance and part of the insurance...and she will too.

Ninja...nope, no guilt at all. He has no reason to feel guilty. Just a little difference of understanding, which we have ironed out. We would never, ever talk about these kinds of things in front of her, that would be irresponsible and immature. They are things to be discussed between adults and that's what we do. She has tried to play us against each other before but fails to realize that we talk to each other, constantly, and decisions aren't made without talking to the other parent. That's how it's always been. There is no "clamping down," there are rules she must follow to earn driving privileges. Our rules aren't strict but we do expect A/B grades. Tantrums and silent treatment go with the teenage territory whether or not they are getting their way. And saying that "All the other kids are doing it," is a cop out. We have our rules, other parents have their rules. End of story. You'd be surprised how much anger, rebellion and acting out parents can handle because we've been dealing with all of the above since day one. She is not a "bad" kid and she is no different than any other teenager.

Nancy...if she was working her butt off and still getting only mediocre grades then we'd reconsider the A/B Rule...but she's not. She has smarts out the yin/yang but doesn't like to do anything that requires any amount of effort.

Ninja Of The Mundane said...

Glad to hear you and your husband have talked it out and are now of one voice and one mind.

Have you or he talked directly with Wild about it yet? If so, how did it go?

Sona said...

Every kid should know how to drive. Not every kid should be "permitted" to drive, however.

I see no reason to not teach her to drive. I see every reason to deny her the right to get her license.

No pain, no gain. She can get her grades up or wait until she is 18 and has the legal right to get a license without parental permission.

Lisa said...

Sounds like a pretty fair rule to me...