Dana turned sixteen ten months ago. Right away she wanted to get her G1 license — that’s the learner’s permit that allows you to take driving lessons and to drive with another licensed driver in the car. We bought her the lessons for her birthday, and she took the in-class part during spring break. After that, she had a few weeks of in-car lessons before her instructor said she should get a parent to start taking her driving.
That’s where I came in. I was a late driver — only got my license five days before I started my first teaching job. To this day, I’m not sure what I would have done if I had failed the road test. I had a job way out in the boonies (no disrespect, Cartwright High School; you are in the boonies).
In any case, I didn’t want Dana to end up like me. To me, getting your license is getting yourself some freedom. Sure, we’re horribly addicted to our cars in the western world, but it’s not like she’s going to add tons of carbon to the atmosphere by driving seven kilometers to school or ten to work. In fact, all it means is that Chrissie and I don’t drive her those places, and since, when we do, we end up driving home and then waiting to pick her up again, our household will probably drive less total distance this way.
So what is it like to have a kid who drives? Nerve-wracking. After hours sitting beside Dana — saying brake, brake! and go, go! less often as the days went by — I think I know her very well as a driver. But I don’t know everyone else on the road — and based on their driving, I don’t really want to. For the first couple of weeks, we had her knock on the bedroom door when she left for work, then text us when she got there.
This brings us to the app I mentioned in the title. Glypse is a geolocation sharing app. It’s awesome. When you send someone a “glympse” you are using your GPS-equipped smartphone to share your location with someone else (or several someone elses) for a certain period of time. You can share via text, email, Facebook, Twitter — anything that can share a link. Dana has a pre-set Glympse shortcut on her phone, so three quick taps sends an email and a text to me with her location for the next half hour. I can pick it up on my phone or on anything that can get email and web, then watch a pretty-much-live little triangle make its way along Lawrence Avenue until she gets to work.
I moved out of home the very same weekend I got my license all those years ago — something I’m very glad Dana did not do last month. I still remember driving away, my parents waving to me from the driveway of the house they still live in. I’m sure they worried all the way until I called from my new place, a couple of hours later.
So what is it like to have a kid who drives? Horrifying, but not as bad as it must have been before cell phones and living in the future.