Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Backseat Teenager

Weston is 14 years old.

He is not driving yet. He has not taken drivers education classes. He does not have his learners permit nor does he posses a drivers license.

With the exception of the Playskool Jeep he drove as a toddler, he has no driving experience.

I, on the other hand, have been driving for over 30 years. That probably qualifies me as somewhat of an experienced driver, don't you think?

So, why is it that dear Weston feels the need to instruct me on driving do's and don'ts? What is it that makes teenagers believe they have instinctively gained this operational expertise? Is there some kind of driving instruction osmosis that occurs overnight that magically transforms these young adults into the likes of Richard Petty or Dale Earnhardt Jr?

I would really like to know because lately our daily drives to school have been going something like this:

"MOM, WATCH OUT!" Weston shouts.

I slam on my brakes certain that I have just run over some poor unsuspecting pedestrian.

"What?" I ask in a panic, clenching the steering wheel and looking in all my mirrors "Did I run over something?"

"Oh, no," Weston states calmly, "the guy up ahead is stopping."

"Oh my God Weston! You mean the car that's 200 feet head of us?"

"Yeah" he answers, "I didn't think you saw him."

"Have I been in a series of accidents lately that I am unaware of?" I ask.

"No" he answers bluntly.

Good, because I was just wondering why are you so nervous?"

"I don't know," he answers as if he really hasn't a clue, "Sorry Mom."

I continue on toward school, a little shaken by my son's perceived close call warning and potential for a driving catastrophe.

I accelerate to a whopping 20 mph when once again I hear,


I instinctively hit the brake again, causing the vehicle to lurch forward as we halt suddenly.

"There's a kid over there on the sidewalk." he announces emphatically.

Now the guy driving behind me has totally lost his mind. He is impatient with my constant braking and beeps his horn.


"Weston, please! I have been doing this for a long time. I am a safe driver. I am not being reckless or endangering you or Nicholas in any way. I need you to calm down so I can drive you to school without any distractions. If this continues, I WILL be more likely to crash.

"I'm sorry Mom," he says earnestly,  "I just can't help it."

I press the accelerator again and convince myself that I will not brake despite any of Weston's worried warnings.

"Turn right up ahead Mom!" he tells me.

Now, I have been driving this same route to school every morning for the last 4 years. That's about 200 days a year.....times 4...for a whopping 800 total days. I would hope by now I know where I need to turn to get to the school. I resist the urge to ask my attentive son why he believes he is the most unfortunate child in the world to be living with the most clueless mother ever born.

I take the right into the school driveway in silence.

As I drive up to the doorway he says,

"OK you can stop here!"

Once again, I resist an urge to remind my intolerant son that I do indeed have a brain.

"Bye Mom," he says as he jumps out of the vehicle, "Thank you."

As I drive away from school, I wonder......Thank you for what? Thank you for getting me to school safely despite your cluelessness? Thank you for listening to me teach you (the clueless mother) how to drive?

 Or is it thank you Mom for understanding my anxiety issues and being ever so tolerant?

This weekend I got my answer.

I believe Weston's need to instruct "or boss" others, his propensity to control everything, his constant warnings of impending gloom and doom are indeed side effects of his overwhelmingly acute attentiveness and accompanying anxiety, typical symptoms related to his diagnosis of ADHD.

Saturday, my laid-back husband returned home from doing errands with Weston. On his face was a look of extreme confusion and a painful grimace of repressed anger.

"Hon," he asked me with complete seriousness, "am I a bad driver?"

I tried to answer my poor confused husband but all I could do was laugh.