In addition to potty train, I am required to teach a teenager how to drive? Parenting is bullshit.

by Janelle Hanchett

There are so many parts of parenthood that strike me as absolutely illogical and impossible, and yet, we have to do them.

Beginning with getting a baby out of a vagina, or even being pregnant at all, actually. Enduring the last month of pregnancy. Not a thing, and yet, we all do it, repeatedly.

Potty training is another one: Oh so NBD I’m just supposed to get a toddler who last week didn’t mind sitting in his own excrement and sticks blueberries up his nose to communicate with me about when he has to urinate.

Cool good talk.

And yet, all four of my kids now use a toilet. Weird.

Maybe I’m just old and tired, but I have to say, above all insane requirements of parenthood, the most baffling and batshit is “Teach your teenager how to drive.”

Okayyyyyyy let’s talk about this. My teenager, a 16-year-old, who takes frequent Snapchat selfies and inquires about “when I’m going to actually start parenting my children” is supposed to enter the roads with common humanity, 3,000 pound boxes of metal on wheels barreling down freeways at 70 MPH, half of their drivers drunk or texting, while I sit at home hoping for the best.


I don’t even know who I’m talking to.

But for real, this ain’t right. The first time I sat in our minivan with my teenager in the driver’s seat, I noticed how she looked like a tiny baby in charge of the Pentagon. Like a toddler at the front lines wielding a mini sword, much like our POTUS, perhaps, only significantly more moral, reasonable, and capable of intelligent thought.

So not like him at all.

I got my phone out and told my husband to deal with it since I was for sure about to have a breakdown and needed to pretend none of this was happening.

It’s my go-to parenting move until I come up with a better one.

When we got home, I told Mac, “Um, she’s terrible at this.”

Now, I realize the whole learner’s permit thing is to remedy the “terrible” thing and my kid is responsible, smart, and careful, but I think she needs to be driving for about three years before she’s let out into the wild world of assholes and other nondescript rush-hour drivers who are for sure hellbent on crashing into her.

But no. We’re supposed to do this for a few months then let her drive. In the world. On roads. Without parents but with Snapchat. Hoping for the best.


Can I just simply fucking opt out?

Can I just not do this and call it a day? Like potty training, I’d just like to wait until this phase passes, but this one ain’t passing.

Everybody keeps saying “But she can drive her siblings around.”

Sure good plan. But first, tell me: What exactly are you inhaling?

I can barely comprehend letting her drive herself around, let alone her chattering, flailing siblings arguing incessantly because they never get to choose their song on Spotify.

Never. Okay? Never ever.

Also, 100% suddenly regretting some of the driving decisions of my life. Every time I made a hasty turn, took that call, sent that totally required text at a stoplight, or fished around behind my seat to retrieve the monster truck the toddler just dropped and is now screaming about – why didn’t I think of this?

I just wish parenthood would stop asking me to do insane shit that could lead to death.

Okay? That’s all I want.

In other news, can we talk briefly about the fact that parents are supposed to teach a child how to drive precisely at the time when that child believes to the very core of her being that her parents know nothing?

Who the fuck formulated this plan?

Us: “Brake.”

Teenager: No action.


Teenager: Eye roll. Brakes. Looks at us like “How is it that you’re so old and yet know nothing?”



Great. Yes. Teach a teenager how to drive. This makes sense.

Let’s learn to drive.

There is nothing in this post except wonder and awe at the insanity of this endeavor, much like putting my teenager on the road.

High five. And to the dude who flipped my kid off because she wasn’t going fast enough: If I ever find you, I’ll kill you in your sleep.

It’s fine. I’m rational.

Yay road rage, metal boxes flying down the road, and loved ones!




Did you know that
Amazon editors chose I’m Just Happy to Be Here as a “Best Book of 2018 So Far” in the

– wait for it –

HUMOR category (?).

Who knew Amazon editors had such a jacked up sense of humor? (This is not an insult.)

Anyway, that made me particularly delighted, because we talk a lot about the book’s seriousness, and not much about the parts where I, at least, laughed my ass off writing it. Nice to see that aspect of it highlighted.

Thank you, Amazon editorial staff.


13 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | July 23, 2018
  • Tamara

    So I have a 20 year old who has yet to learn how to drive. I believe he knows how but getting his license is usually a thought that he comes up with about once a month but it doesn’t really happen. I’ve got a 19 year old that it hasn’t happened for but is very eager and yeah, I’m not so sure about that. Then the 16 year old who I honestly thinks hates me because I’m breathing so I just like to be petty and make up excuses so we can’t go get her permit. Have to get my kicks somehow.

  • Tiphini

    DUUUUUDE. Tomorrow my oldest turns 17 and after a year of finding every possible excuse to NOT teach him how to drive he’s finally shamed me into starting this god awful process. It sucks and words like “terrifying” don’t even start to describe it. At 6mph on an abandoned road he started hyperventilating and freaking out about how fast he was going which was kinda cute until he asked me WHICH ONE WAS THE BRAKE when I told him to stop. Fuck this shit. Like for really real.

  • Michelle

    My 17 year old just did his first solo trip navigating downtown Vancouver, over two bridges in rush hour traffic, and merged onto the Highway of Death (AKA the Sea to Sky Highway #99North) and drove himself to the camp where he works. I didn’t breathe for three hours. That was 4 days ago and my heart rate is still through the roof.

    In the meantime my 16 year old backed into the bushes across our street trying to learn to drive with me yesterday. But it’s apparently my fault because, well, I don’t know why but it’s all my fault. She knew what she was doing.

    My youngest will be eligible for his learner’s permit in 19 months.

    I clearly didn’t think this through when I had them.

  • Judy

    Just do what any sane parent does. Hire a pro. They have nerves of steel and probably some really good drugs.

  • Linda

    My mother’s version of teaching me to drive consisted of her grabbing the wheel and wrenching it in whatever direction she wanted. This culminated in me wedding up my permit and flinging it in her general direction while telling her I refused to get behind the wheel with her in the car “teaching me”to drive.

    My dad’s version was to use a calm voice to gently give helpful hints such as ” That was pretty good. Next time you might want to make your turn a little tighter so you don’t take out another mailbox.”

    When my kids were learning to drive, I used my dad’s voice while clenching the seat with my butt. Circle of life. They all learned and we’re all still speaking. Good luck!

  • amanda

    I will be revisiting this in 2 years… when my oldest can drive….already freaking out.

    Also- you’re my favorite.

  • Rosemarie Gilbert

    OH MY LORD YES!! 3 down and one that refused to learn. Doesn’t want to dive. And I’m OK with that! Also I made the Driver Ed teachers do all the beginning work Couldn’t handle it

    • Rosemarie Gilbert

      And I work in an ER/Trauma center, so my anxiety level is a steady Defcon 5 🙁

  • Jennifer

    The only good thing about teenagers driving is the parent’s ability to remove the privilege. It’s great leverage to get them to do what we want.

  • Gretchen

    ME (Calmly, I swear): You need to turn the wheel a bit more and hug the turn more, you’re going out too far into the turn, ok?

    HIM: Barely turns the wheel and swings WAY out into the intersection.

    ME (Calmly, I swear): There, that’s what I was talking about…you need to TURN.THE.WHEEL.MORE. and tighten that up.

    HIM: Barely turns the wheel and swings WAY out into the intersection.


    HIM: I AM turning it (as he swings way out into traffic)

  • Anonymous so my kid is not outed

    My son on the phone to me first time ever taking the car by himself: “So, I didn’t make it all the way home without hitting something.”

    (It was a trash pile on the curb and he was one block from home, but, still!)

    Also, do not teach your kid to drive in your newest, undented car which you have never owned a car quite so new and is the only time you’ve ever even had a car payment and only got it a month ago. At least not if you want it to remain in its undented condition.

    This could possibly be the best post ever!!!

  • laura

    Yep. Three for three the last one just last year, 3 years after her twin. I think we were both scarred from THAT experience and simply getting behind the wheel sent her into all kinds of anxiety. Today, all licensed up, she told me she she wants to quit pursuing her degree in genetics to drive professionally, like for Uber. What the absolute FUCK!? Um, no, dear, just be careful on your way to class. SMDH.

  • JF Brown

    If they have to pay for their own insurance, it can possibly keep them in the learner’s permit phase a long time, because insurance at 16 is much more expensive than at 18. And as one of mine found out, it’s cheaper yet at 22.