I’ve had a lifetime of experience with the dmv. It kicked off with getting my own license at sixteen then rolled through thirty-odd years of renewals, eye exams, sign tests, address updates, and one particularly intense application process for the North Carolina REAL ID. I figured I had this down. I knew my stuff.

And then a kid went and turned fourteen and a half.

We juggled the classroom portion of driver’s ed in March and holy cow, you guys, this thing was crazy. Three weekends in a row – Fridays after school until 6:30, Saturdays 8:00-2:00. They took section tests plus a final exam and had to come out above a certain average to get passed on to driving instruction. It was…intense. But he passed.

Cue three+ months of waiting for a driving instructor to schedule T-man. I called. I pleaded. I explained that no, I didn’t want to get him in early, but we’d be traveling three different times in the thirty days before his birthday so could we please please PLEASE put him on somebody’s calendar in July. The first time somebody told me they don’t schedule “that far out” I thought my head would explode. The second time there was a bit of “are you freaking kidding me?” word vomit. The third time (because yeah, I’m persistent) the woman helpfully said she’d check his file only to come back on the line to tell me they were missing a form.


So anyway, he eventually scored a driving instructor last month. Poor kid looked like he wanted to puke as I drove him to his first lesson but by the end of the week he was feeling good. I was feeling good. It was all of the good.

Then the kid went and turned fifteen.

That was his green light to get his learner’s permit so you can imagine my shock when he said nah, he was good, he wanted to sleep in on his birthday. We went to the dmv today, and it turns out going as an observer is a very different experience.

  • The pressure of not forgetting one of the required documents – a mistake that would require yet another crack of dawn dmv excursion – is enough to make a grown woman weep.
  • There’s still the waiting. So much waiting. Only now you have to manage your own frustration while simultaneously reassuring your teen that life will in fact go on no matter what happens during that test.
  • Then they expect you to leave your teen amongst the cubicles, depending on the power of Biscuitville to carry him through.
  • And the test – oh my god, THE TEST – is administered on computer now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for technology, but this thing tells you as you go if you’ve answered the question correctly. Nothing screams TIME TO FREAK OUT like missing a few questions on a make or break exam. Sheesh.

Spoiler Alert: A certain someone got his permit today. Guess we’re moving on to the next stage.