What We Forgot To Teach Them Before College #BeThereMoments

I find it hard to believe, but I have a son going off to college this year. Or I guess the appropriate term would be going to college, as opposed to “off” to college, since he will be living at home and commuting. After a lot of discussion, we have decided that the local community college is the place to start, with a transfer to a university in another part of the state in a year or two.

This, of course, will require him to drive every day from home in his car. Today’s cars are like miniature space shuttles, with all the lights, buttons and gadgets they have, and sometimes they cost nearly as much. My son doesn’t drive a brand new car though. He doesn’t even drive a close-to-new car. I purposely bought him an older car when he learned to drive because I have had teen drivers before and I noticed that they seem somewhat prone to hitting stationary objects. Frequently. I figured there would be less stress for all of us if it came with dents already in it.

As I am getting ready for this change I realized that he has never commuted, in rush hour, on the freeway and I am trying to decide if I have covered all the bases. Things can go wrong with a car on a moments notice and if you have no idea what is happening you may not handle the situation well at all. If you had asked me two years ago when he got his car, I would have told you that he would be fine! That was before he called to tell me his battery was dead and he didn’t know why? Turns out that he didn’t know if you left the radio playing while you were hanging out, it could drain the battery. Ditto for the time he didn’t realize that leaving his headlights on would do the same thing.

That’s when I concluded that teens and cars are a lot like toddlers and the world. They don’t know anything unless you tell them.


The driver’s classes teach them how to drive, but that has almost nothing to do with the car itself. So as he goes back and forth frequently, I need him to know when to get his oil changed. I need him to know how to jump a battery. I need him to know how to change a flat because everyone gets a flat at some point, and I distinctly remember my teenage-self standing on the side of the road utterly confused about how this was all supposed to work. I am sure there are things I have missed too. Of course since he is living off-campus and staying local, we can be there for him if he needs us now, but the ultimate goal is for him to be able to handle all of this independently. He isn’t our last child in the house and I have no intention of spending the rest of my life calling my adult children every three months and telling them it’s time for a quick trip to Jiffy Lube.

We have one more who will get her permit the week he starts college and will need to be taught how to drive, change tires, change oil and take care of her car all by herself, but she is the third, so we should have had enough practice by then to get it right. Especially since she is adamant that she is going away to college as soon as high school is over.

Maybe I can convince her live on-campus and then she won’t need a car.

Have a student heading off to college? Be there, no matter where they go. Read more stories from parents like me at betheremoments.com and join in the conversation by using the hashtag #BeThereMoments.




Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Michelin, but all thoughts and opinions are our own.









About the author

Melissa Morritt Coble

Melissa Morritt Coble

Melissa Coble is a mom living in Phoenix, Arizona just
trying to survive the teenage years with a lot of laughs,
an occasional rant, and copious amounts of wine. You can
find her counting the days until her nest is empty on her blog An Unfit Parent and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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