Driving Miss Disdainful
Tracey freaks out in her role as teen transport manager.
 So there I was, parked outside my 17-year-old daughter’s BFF’s house, waiting with increasing irritation for the girls to – in the lingo of the moment – get their shit together. There had been a sleepover party there the night before and now I was waiting – and waiting, and waiting – for my daughter and one other girl to get in the car so I could take them home.

While I sat there, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel, four or five girls, including my daughter, held what appeared to be an impromptu giggle-fest/post-mortem of the party, on the pavement.

Finally I could take it no more. “Get in!” I screamed to my daughter and her friend, “or I’m going without you!”

They complied, although not without the obligatory rolling of the eyes. “Sheesh, Mom,” my daughter said, as we pulled away. “Chillax, why doncha?”

In the years between about 15 and 17, teenagers are stuck in a lamentable – for parents – middle ground: they’re not old enough to have their driver’s licences but what they lack in the permit department, they more than make up for in the complexity of their social lives.

They have endless lists of assignations, and how are they going to get to those all-important parties if you don’t take them? And if you don’t take them, you will, of course, be ruining their lives forever.
The bone-deep indignity of transporting teenagers has often compelled me to entertain notions of unspeakable violence, but none so intensely (or, okay, recently) as yesterday, when I was driving my daughter and the BFF back to our place for yet another sleepover.

About five minutes after we’d left her house, the BFF suddenly shouted, “Stop!” I slammed on brakes, causing the motorist behind me to hysterically mouth things at me that I don’t think his mother would have approved of.

Raising a hand in apology to him, I said to the BFF, “What’s the matter?” and I added in what I thought was an ominous way, “This better be good.”

“I’ve forgotten my bikini!” she wailed. “We have to go back!”

I stared at her for so long and with such venom that my eyes started watering. “You. Can. Just. Swim. Naked,” I finally said through thread-thin lips, before turning forward, putting the car in gear and moving off with deliberate calmness.

“Cool!” yodelled the BFF, utterly oblivious of the elephantine quantities of stress chemicals she’d just caused to be dumped into my bodily system.

And there’s the rub: not only are teenagers extravagantly disdainful of anything that doesn’t benefit them in some way, they are impervious to irony or sarcasm. It really is little wonder that parents of teens are so often driven to think violent thoughts?

Have you had teen-driving road rage? How do you manage lifts?

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