So I apologize for being MIA for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been pretty busy with family, college orientation, and pageant preparations; leading me to start this blog around the last week of June.
I recently had the opportunity to speak at a couple of the driver’s education classes. While I was in the classroom I spoke mainly about the consequences of bad decisions. I shared Jared’s story in hopes to, at the least, get through to that little voice in the back of their heads. My reasoning for this being, that while I was at the front of the classroom I came to the realization it is a lot harder to get through to the age group I am focusing most on protecting. All I could see in their eager little faces, was someone standing in the way of them and their license. While this realization saddened me, it also made sense, because the cut and dry truth is the Graduated Driver’s License program does prolong the licensing process. In a way I am adding road blocks (cliché) on their quest to freedom. HOWEVER, what I seem to be struggling to get through, is that these kids have the rest of their lives to drive. They have the rest of their lives to be held responsible for not only themselves, but others, and while the GDL may be pushing the time limit back a ways, the reasoning isn’t to suppress their freedom, it is to make sure they approach this freedom armed with every possible precaution. Slowly but surely they’ll go through real life scenarios, in which they’ll gain the experience needed to make them a better driver, however this process takes time. Unfortunately this is the last thing they want to hear. However, along with every other life lesson, they may thank you parents later for implementing these rules. I know that’s how I feel today.
While I was learning to drive North Dakota didn’t have a GDL in place. This didn’t stop my parents from implementing our own ‘home-made’ one. After I got my permit my parents required me to drive for an entire year, on all different types of terrain (snow, gravel, rain) to better prepare me for all the different seasons. Once I acquired my actual driver’s license, more rules were put in place. We sat down and discussed a contract. During the first 12 months I had my license I was expected to have the car parked in the garage by 10:00 at night. I wasn’t allowed to carry ANY passengers; this included my two younger brothers. And they also stressed the importance of limiting all distractions; aka cell phone and radio. If I were to break any of these agreements, my driving privileges would be taken away. While many times I struggled with some of the rules they had in place, mainly because my friends didn’t have these rules, I knew in the back of my mind their reason. I don’t like to say it was because of Jared, because it wasn’t. However unfortunately his accident had a catastrophic impact on how my family viewed teen drivers. Every precaution was taken to protect us.
After my appearances at the driver’s Ed classes my next stop was sunny California. My aunt and uncle were gracious enough to allow me and three friends to stay with them for a week. It was really nice getting away from work for a while; however my favorite part was spending lots of quality time with my family. I got to see my cousin Jordan along with his wife Shauna and their three kiddos. I was able to spend some time with my cousin Austin, my aunt Debbie and my uncle Lee. Cousin Brittney is in Africa so I wasn’t able to see herL but I was able to skype with her while I was there. We did quite a few things while we were in California; we had a bonfire on the beach, hiked Bishop’s Peak, spent a couple days at Avila Beach, watched fireworks over a winery on the 4th, and spent our days relaxing by the pool. Aside from all of those activities I was able to talk quite a bit about the pageant with my aunt and uncle, more specifically about Jared. My uncle took me to a couple of pretty special places. Not only was I able to see the flag pole at the local baseball field dedicated to Jared, Lee also drove me along the road where the accident happened. While both of those locations stirred up quite a mix of emotions I think the hardest part was visiting Jared’s grave. It wasn’t the first time I’d been there, however it’s been three years since my last visit and a lot has happened since then; the pageant, graduation, and just the simple reality of growing up. It’s hard for me to describe in words the emotions I experienced, and a part of me doesn’t want to. It feels too personal. I’m just glad I had the opportunity to visit while I was there.
It was a sad goodbye however it won’t be for long because Auntie Debbie will be joining me and the rest of my family in Chicago! I can’t even begin to describe my excitement! But I will save that for a later blog. Stay tunedJ