Austin got his learner's permit!!
I took him a week ago Friday to take the written test, which has two parts: a road rules test and a road signs test. Honestly, I was just planning for this first time to be a "trial run". I was hoping he would see the process, get experience taking the computer-based test (he hates using the computer), and get accustomed to the sensory overload that is the Department of Driver Services in Georgia. I was determined that this needed to be his show. He was going to have to do "his own appraisal and thinking" to borrow some RDI terms. We walked in the building and his first task was to tell the receptionist what he was there for, and to get the paperwork and a number. Not fun to find out there were 22 people ahead of us just to get permits. Yikes, this was going to be a long day. We sat down in the very hard chairs and he took a look at the paperwork to fill out. I'm pretty sure this was his first time to fill out a form! It was slow going, but that wasn't a problem considering the wait we had ahead of us.
While he was filling out the form, I did look over it to make sure he was doing it correctly. Some of the questions were new to him... but I looked around me and saw lots of parents assisting with the paperwork so I felt a little freedom to help out a bit. I'm sure he wasn't the only one filling out his first form that day. When he got to the question asking if he ever had seizures, etc. he got upset and said we should just leave. @@ I said that we could do that if he wanted to, but he said no. He checked the "yes" box and filled in the required information about his last episode and his doctor's name. The paperwork was complete and we still had 15 numbers ahead of us. (For the record they never even mentioned the seizures part!)
The sensory overload was bad, even for me. There was the noise of people talking. There was the noise of the numbers being called out by a computerized voice: "Now serving number D624 at counter number 3." The florescent light behind us was making a hideous buzz. I kept reminding myself that this was just a practice run and tried to stay light-hearted. But I was getting concerned as I could see Austin's anxiety level increasing.
Then God sent us a little relief. Austin said, "Hey! Look who's here!" I turned around and there was Austin's drum teacher/mentor standing at the reception desk. We went over to say hello and asked him to come sit with us. He was there to renew his license, so we talked for a few minutes. When he realized the wait was going to be longer than he could be away at work, he decided to leave and come back another time and as we said goodbye, Austin's number was called.
It was so hard at the counter to let this be Austin's job. I kept wanting to say, "Austin are you paying attention?" or to answer for him when the guy was asking him questions. I could have used a muzzle and straight jacket! LOL When he told Austin which computer station to go to, I wanted to say, "Did you pay attention? Do you remember what number? Do you know how to find it?" but I just kept quiet. If Austin forgot the number or didn't know how to find it, he would have to step up and ask.
He took off for the computer room and I sat down and tried to read. That didn't work. So I started to pray. LOL All I wanted was for this to remain a positive experience for Austin. I already knew we would come back the following week. I just didn't want him to be overwhelmed and bomb everything and be discouraged. Imagine my surprise when he passed the road rules test with an 85% but failed the road signs test by only one question. Then I was in even more surprise when the guy said that he would only have to retake the one test when we came back in! Austin was thrilled and I was proud of him. He wasn't showing any signs of stress. In fact, he was laughing because he felt that he could have passed the test but he clicked a wrong button on one question and didn't realize he could go back and change the answer. And enough of his friends didn't pass the first time to where he didn't feel like a failure. He took it all in stride.
Fast forward to this past Thursday. We dropped the girls off at VBS and went straight to DDS. This time he walked in like he owned the place. There were only 5 numbers ahead of his this time and we didn't have nearly as long of a wait. He was called up and was at a computer before long. I went over to buy a transmitter to use the toll lanes going into and out of Atlanta to use the next two weeks while Riley has a summer intensive at Atlanta Ballet. I got up from doing that and took a seat to wait for Austin. I turned on my Kindle to try to read, and I looked up and saw Austin back in line. I was worried because it hadn't been long enough. What could be wrong?!
When I walked up to see what was going on, the worker said, "I think that was a record time!" I said, "Did you pass?" and Austin beamed, "100%!" I was shocked! Way to go, Coop! I told him how proud I was of him for studying hard this week and really learning the signs. He got his paper permit (the hard copy will come in a few weeks), and we set out to a church parking lot to practice for the first time. About 5 minutes later he said, "Mom, I need to tell you something. I didn't study at all." @@ Figures.
So here we are at the church parking lot... and my not-so-little-boy in the driver's seat:
He was so excited to drive for the first time!
I kept calm, as I always do:
He had a second lesson yesterday in the same parking lot and as I type this he is out driving in the neighborhood with his dad in the truck. I won't pretend I'm not nervous... that truck is a monster and I don't think it's easy to drive! LOL We have been holding on to the van for Austin to drive, but haven't had the chance to get the air conditioning fixed yet. Once we get that fixed then he can drive the van most of the time. I'm also going to call a driving school to get him signed up for official lessons. I have no doubt that Russ and I could teach him how to drive just fine, but because of his 'issues' I would like a professional opinion about his ability to drive. I think it will be worth the high cost of the class.
Getting a driver's license will make such a difference in Austin's ability to be independent as an adult. This permit is good for 2 years, so even if it takes quite a while for him to be comfortable driving, he has plenty of time! I feel like we are one step closer to independence for Austin! :)
***Edited to add: They just got back! Russ took him out of the neighborhood and onto the roads near our neighborhood! ACK!! LOL Austin said that he doesn't like driving the truck as well... can't say that I blame him!)