Red Means Stop!…Right?

After my sons were launched off to college, I remember reflecting on the joys of child rearing. The wonderful memories will be eternally  etched in my mind and preserved for posterity. I remember conjuring up precious recollections, as I smiled to myself.

However… my pleasant thoughts came to a screeching halt when my mind brought the trying age of 15 to the forefront. I’d like to wipe it out of my memory bank for an eternity. However… it wasn’t because of their behavior…but… because of mine!!!

This age 15 stage must be endured by all parents. It lasts one year–that would be twelve whole months!!!!! Wondering what it is? Here’s a hint:Your sweaty hands are grabbing onto the car door handle for dear life while you’re “tenderly” (?) saying, “Brake! Brake!” Welcome to your 15 year old’s driver permit days. Did I mention that it lasts for a year…twelve months!!! It’s a year when we, as parents, make goofballs of ourselves. (or was that just me?)

My sons are observant, cautious, “aware of their surroundings” kind of boys/men. Logically, I knew they were quite capable of being  good drivers, but my justification was that I wasn’t ready to die on the off-chance that they may have missed the day they learned that “red means stop!!!!” Whenever they drove it felt more like a kidnapping to me, as I would struggle to maintain composure. I would hear myself fearfully asking with hopeful optimism, “I’m sure you see that the light just turned red, didn’t you?… did you?…right?” They weren’t “Driving Miss Daisy.” It was more like “Driving Me Crazy!”

As my sons would head enthusiastically to open the car door on the driver’s side, (which is where the steering wheel is, you know) I could feel my hands beginning to sweat, as my heart began to pound.. My battle plan was to try to fake calmness. The doorknob and my clenching hand were becoming fast friends. As hard as I tried to hide it, my sons would inevitably see my ridiculous display. They would say, “Maaaaaammmmmmaaaa!…I can see you grabbing the door handle…again!” ” No, I’m not. You’re doing just fine,” I would say weakly with a blood pressure of 200 over 125.

I remember the nice people at the Department of Motor Vehicles as they issued the thin paper permit with a pleasant, “There you go.” No problem for them–they get to go home and have a good night’s sleep while we are left stewing about the inevitable moment when we are sitting in the passenger seat as our child merges on to the interstate at break-neck speed paralleling a tandem truck. Yikes!

Perhaps, padded helmets or better yet, armored tanks should be issued along with the driver permit as “parting gifts” (parting from what? Hmmm…good word choice.) I can only conclude that its all a rite of passage as we work through (with sweaty hands) one of the tiers in the natural progression of teaching our offspring to “spring off” to the assortment of other “tiers of life” awaiting them…hopefully keeping in mind that RED MEANS STOP!!!   Hunter Darden–personalized copies of my books may be ordered by scrolling to the top and clicking on the link or email me at


About Hunter

Hunter has been living her dream of being an author after falling in love with the Nancy Drew Mysteries in the fourth grade. She has incorporated her love for words along with her psychology degree from Meredith College to create books that can be aids in healthy nourishment for the mind. She is the author of five children's books, a photography book and a novel. She has been a human interest columnist for The Charlotte Observer (2001-2005) as well. She was the recipient of the "50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading" by The Author's Show, the Meredith College Career Achievement Alumnae Award and the Excellence in Creative Writing Award by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. She is a public speaker and teaches a writing camp for kids called Writer's Cramp Camp. (The animated art on this blog is provided by
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