Riding with a cowgirl fairy princess

Riding with your teenage driver can be a terrifying experience. One evening over the holidays, our family had a game night with another family at their home. “You can drive,” I said to my daughter as I passed the keys. “Your mother and I can sit in the back while you chauffeur us.”

“Ooh, that’ll be fun,” my wife said, “I always wanted a chauffeur.”

My daughter rolled her eyes as we got in the car. Before backing out of the driveway, she took a few seconds to adjust the mirrors and steering wheel. “Good,” I thought to myself, “she’s still a cautious driver.”

My daughter is a good driver, but it is still terrifying for me when she drives. Maybe it’s because I remember her running around the house playing “cowgirl fairy princesses” with my sister. No matter how old she gets, that will still be part of who she is in my mind. I subconsciously ask myself if it is safe to ride with a cowgirl fairy princess at the wheel.

The first time I rode with her, I made a pledge to myself that I would not act nervous while she was driving. If I needed to offer any direction, I determined that I would do so in a calm and quiet tone. I completely underestimated how difficult that pledge would be. As we approached the first red light, my right leg began to twitch. Instinctively, I wanted to search for a brake pedal that wasn’t there. She gently applied the brake to slow the car to a stop. I began to breathe again.

I used to think this nervousness would go away as I became more confident in her driving. That delusion was taken away the day after Christmas. My parents were in town, and I took my mother and the children to the Cleveland Museum of Art. As we exited I-90 and approached a stoplight, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my mom’s leg start to twitch. Then she started pushing her foot against the floor.

“It doesn’t work, you know,” I said.

“What doesn’t work?”

“The brake on that side of the car,” I smiled. “It doesn’t work.”

“Oh, I know,” she said, “I’m just nervous.”

“I know,” I said.

I really did know what she felt like. I’ve been driving for the better part of three decades without an accident. She still remembers the little boy who cut his chin on the coffee table while testing a theory that he could fly. Is it really safe to ride with someone who once thought it possible that he could fly?

I’ll never be entirely comfortable riding in a car that my daughter is driving. I’ll always remember that somewhere inside of her, there is a cowgirl fairy princess, and I’ll never be sure it’s safe to ride with a cowgirl fairy princess. I wouldn't have it any other way because I’m the proud father of a cowgirl fairy princess.

RJ Johnson

I have been a priest for 16 years.  I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010.  If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 9:52 AM, 01.05.2016