Mom I am Old Enough to Drive Now!


The maiden turned 16 this month. Big birthday for most teenagers in Ontario because they can begin the process of  trying for their driver’s licence. And like a typical teenager, the maiden wants to start to drive.

Most parents worry about their child being responsible while behind the wheel. Parents of teenagers with FASD have to contend with more than just that worry. Add to the mix she is impulsive, easily distracted and in some areas of functioning only eight years old. She is a great rule follower, so she would follow the rules of the road – but would she remember them?

Some may say, give her a chance. Let her prove me wrong. However, putting her behind the wheel of a vehicle now is not a wise decision. Why?

Below are examples of life in the FASD world over the last three days. These actions tell me the maiden is not ready, does not have the capacity or the cognitive ability yet for the responsibility of driving.

Calm and Rationale Decision-making

She was going to be left alone for approximately thirty minutes. I had to go out and the crone was out shopping. I thought the crone would be back in thirty minutes, but I told the maiden it could be longer, so do not worry – she will not be long because she has the groceries with her. If she wasn’t back in thirty it meant she went to another store. I would be home by 1 p.m.

I got home at 1 p.m. The crone was not home. The maiden ran outside to greet me (so I knew she was in a bit of a state). She phoned her “summer buddy” to ask her if she could come an hour early because she was home all alone. (Her summer buddy is a university student who spends a few hours a week over the summer just hanging out and being a positive experience of a friend).

She should have called her grandma or myself. No one else.

Talking to Strangers, Staying Safe

On that same day, a candidate for the upcoming election showed up at the door. The maiden told the stranger her parents were not home.

Despite years of reminders that she is never to tell strangers personal details, she still did not understand that she could have been in danger.

A simple, my mom can’t come to the door, would be better.

Impulsive ~ Here and Now ~ Consequences do not matter

She is hooked on an online horse game. I have had a look at it, and it seems appropriate. However, she keeps getting banned for begging other players to help her earn money, or buy one of her horses or let her help them so she can earn “money” on the game.

The first time she got banned for a few hours. Each successive ban is longer. Last night the ban given is for 166 hours. I have talked with her each time she gets banned. Tried to explain she is not to ask people directly for anything – it is against the rules.

For someone who is a real rule follower I am not able to understand why she cannot remember this rule and the consequence. But she still thinks she has done nothing wrong and the moderators are being unfair.

Money, Money, Money

She needs close monitoring with money. Any money she gets, she spends. On anything that takes her interest. It may be something useful. Most times it is not.

She wants certain items, but even though she loves to spend money, she would rather not buy the $10.00 1 Direction CD she has been longing for – because it will use up all her money at once. She would rather buy 4 or 5 items from the dollar store – paper, notebooks, labels, Pokemon cards, a hair ribbon, etc.

I put some of her allowance away for savings and money to buy gifts for family and friends, otherwise she would never have any to buy costlier items she would like (like games for her Nintendo, a new purse, CDs, etc.) or presents.

50 Shades of Only Black and White

I borrowed her $10 allowance she had not yet been out to spend and told her I would pay her back. I needed money to pay her tutor and I had not been to the bank. I used an assortment of bills and change. While I was out, the crone exchanged all the assorted bills and change she had for two $20 bills. The maiden insisted the $10 the crone took in exchange was her $10. That she should get the exact $10 bill back. The crone explained that I was giving her the money I borrowed when I came home. She was not getting the same $10 bill back.

Now it would have been easier for the crone to give her the money and then just ask me for the $10 – but she was trying to explain to her that the money the maiden loaned her mother was to be paid back by her mother.

Today she also insisted on going to Wal-Mart to return a Nintendo game she no longer wants. But she really wanted the money. She has sold some games to a pawn shop – and she insisted she could do the same at Walmart.

Despite the crone telling her there is no way she’ll get her money back because it is used, the maiden cannot understand that just because the pawn shop buys used games, does not mean all stores do. Her reasoning is, she bought it from Walmart, they should take it back.

When customer service refused the refund, and explained all what the crone had, she insisted on going to the Electronics Department to ask there. They repeated the same information. She is still having trouble understanding why they will not take it back. In her mind, if one store does it, all stores should.

This is the age where the differences are really starting to show. As people grow up there are certain milestones and rights of passage. I explain the differences to the maiden, and assure her, her brain is just growing at a different rate. There are many things she will be able to do – she just might have to wait a little longer, be a little older, practice a little longer. Some things she might not be able to do. But she isn’t the only one.

At this point I need to let her know that driving is one of those activities that she will likely need to wait a little longer to do.