Dealing with My First Child’s Entrance to Driving

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D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore...

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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Last year at this time, my oldest child was convinced he’d rather have a motorcycle than a car when he turned 16. And that’s not as crazy as it sounds. He’s been riding motorcycles, albeit in an off-road capacity, since he was six years old.

As someone who rides a motorcycle, I know exactly how much fun they can be, and could see where he was coming from. But that didn’t mean I was in agreement. So I set a number of conditions on being willing to sign off on his choice:

  • The first motorcycle would have an engine size of 500cc or lower.
  • He’d complete the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course.
  • His mother would also have to agree to sign for him.

That third condition was the kicker, because I suspected it wouldn’t happen, no matter how much discussion took place. Unlike me, his mother doesn’t ride motorcycles, nor does she particularly care for them.

But like me, she also recognizes the relative lack of safety a motorcycle provides a rider. And that no matter how careful one is when riding, there’s plenty of danger lurking out on the roads in the form of other drivers.

What a difference a year makes as we’re just three weeks away from him getting his drivers permit. My son has since shifted gears, and has decided that his first vehicle will indeed be an automobile.

I knew that this day would come, but I also thought that once he arrived at that point, we’d be looking for a nice used Honda Civic or Accord.

Instead of being interested in a late model Japanese used car, however, my son is looking for a much older American car.

And in his mind, the car that would be his ideal choice would be circa 1960s to the very early 1970s. Classic American cars, many of which even pre-date me.

Thus far we’ve looked at everything from an 1971 Dodge Demon to a 1956 Dodge pickup truck. One of his leading choices thus far is the 1964 Dodge Dart pictured above.

He’s actually put a bit of thought into it, identifying three main advantages to buying an older American car. These include:

  • Paying for it and owning it himself outright, without mom or dad on the title.
  • Being able to do all of his own maintenance and service work.
  • Pay for his other costs, such as insurance. Since he’ll own the car outright, he’ll be able to get liability insurance.

And of course, there is another bonus in his mind – driving a unique car that no other kid at his high school does.

I’m rather proud of the thought and consideration he’s placed into the whole process up to this point. And I hope he’ll continue to use his mind and maturity once he gets behind the wheel on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, we’re still looking for his first car.

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