This has been one of the most emotionally difficult weeks of this year. Last Wednesday our house was flooded in the massive Sydney storm which seemed to intensify all its fury in our particular area. But this suddenly paled in comparison to the email that came through from my boys’ school bringing the tragic and devastating news that a boy had been killed in a car accident on the way to school.
This is the fourth young life from this school taken this year, and not the first time I have sat with my boys with total loss for words as they try to process the incomprehensible. The driver of the car was the boy’s brother, in my eldest son’s year.
The teenage years are really difficult terrain to navigate. Teenagers need to pull away from authority and start to feel their way in the world, taking on more responsibility, experimenting, being more independent, and establishing their own identity. But at the same time, still needing to understand boundaries and repercussions of their actions, whilst still feeling they belong, are loved and accepted. It’s not dissimilar to the toddler years, but this time the risks and consequences are much greater.
We see our babies’ bodies change shape, develop and grow taller than us, and for all appearances they look like adults. However, the human brain does not finish developing until around the age of 25. So we basically have adult-looking children, whose brains are busy pruning and regrowing neural pathways at a rapid rate.
Unfortunately, one of the side-effects of this pruning and re-wiring means that they are less aware of repercussions of behaviour. They take greater risks and do stupid things, because they lose touch with their mortality and think they are invincible. Though they continue to push us away, adolescence is a time when our kids need us more than ever. Yet we need to practice letting them go, which can leave us primary caregivers feeling pretty helpless at times.
Teenagers and Driving
When it comes to learning to drive, there are some fabulous resources and support out there to help guide kids and their parents. See the picture below for all the useful info. Every council offers free safe driving info sessions for both learners and their caregivers.
If you opt for a defensive driving course, or professional driving instruction, these can shave hours off their mandatory learning hours. You don’t need to pay extra car insurance either while they are learning. As you can see from the graph below, it’s not until they gain their P plates that the risk of crash rises hugely.
As for our flood, the insurance people turned up a couple of days later and took away the drenched carpet and put industrial fans around the dry the walls. These things can be fixed and replaced.
The loss of a young human life creates immeasurable shock waves from which some people will never recover. I’d like to think that in memory of all the young lives lost this year, we can all choose to be a little more aware of how we drive, no matter how experienced we may be. May we also be vigilant with our children’s driving tuition, and be strong role models for them.