We had a saga with our eldest son getting his car licence.
Let’s just say, most of it was his doing. Some of it had to with bureaucracy, red tape and jumping through some hoops.
I just hope he has learnt something through all this. This was just one of those moments where you just have to allow natural consequences to take over.
I am pleased he has his licence - I am writing this while he takes his 9 year old brother to a birthday party!
He had his driving test booked at least for a couple of months. We had the date on the fridge and were ready to celebrate. Belinda and I knew the freedom it was going to give him. We also knew the time we would get back. From training 3 times a week, dropping him off to his fixture games 2 hours before kick off on a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon and his junior fixture refereeing duties on a Saturday. We weren’t just talking minutes per day or week we were getting back. We were talking hours per week we were getting back by not sitting in a car!
It all started with the requirement for him to log 100 hours of driving experience, 10 hours of which had to be night driving. He got the app, completed it accurately, got it signed off by his confident Dad, frazzled Mum and strict grandfather. You then have to submit these electronically to the transport department for approval.
We were sitting at home one day and he said to me that it was time to submit his hours for approval. He then told me it takes 10 days for approval and if he did it now, this would give him enough time to have it approved the day before his test. (Yes, you can order a taxi or car or pizza on an app and it can get to you in 30 minutes, but it takes 10 days for his electronic log book to be approved?) Cutting it fine, but all good…or so he thought.
“Is that 10 days or 10 business days son?”
“I don’t know! 10 days! It says 10 days!”
His test was to be on a Friday, by the Wednesday, panic was setting in.
“Why don’t you give them a call son?”
“They said it’s 10 business days, it’s only been 8.”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know!”
“Ring them back!”
The next available test, due to the number of people requiring a test, is two weeks later. So, with an unapproved log book, his test was set for 2 weeks later. He was not happy.
Part 1 completed
The next morning we could still see his disappointment, but he marched off to school and faced the day. Not long after, we received a forwarded text from him:
Your Log Book has been approved. Please book your driving test.
This was followed by a hurried phone call.
“Quick! Ring and find out if your spot is still there!”
“Nup. Someone’s taken it.”
On the Friday of his “test” (that he had seemed to wait an eternity for), he had his driving instructor come and pick him up for his pre-test drive.
“Hi. Now. Have you rung and checked your appointment time?”
“Are you sure it’s today?”
“I think so.”
“It’s always good to check and confirm.”
“I got the date wrong. It’s on Tuesday.” This was the response we got when he arrived back home in the driving school car early and without a smile on his face.
The Tuesday came and it was the day of his test and he passed!
**insert shrieks of joy and gasps of hesitation here**
The passage to a car licence is a long and onerous task it seems, not to mention a costly one. However, it is a crucial step and rite of passage for our young people. We have to allow time as they are growing up to make mistakes, break some bones, get into trouble and make some poor decisions. Belinda and I often call this “freedom to fail.” The move to driving a car with passengers or by themselves is a big step. A mistake or poor decision can put a dent in their bank balance, but it could also cost them their life or the lives of others. It becomes a big responsibility.
As onlookers to this journey to get a licence, we can see that everything turned out ok in the end. However, we are sure that it was difficult for our eldest to appreciate the journey. We can see that through it he has learned some lessons about reading the small print and now understands what “10 business days” means. He hopefully now knows to check his email confirmation and take notice of important details when on the phone. There was hope, disappointment, expectation, assumption, nervousness, confusion and elation. He made it in the end, but it just took a little while longer because he had never gone through the process before.
I thought that this is similar to how we journey with God when He calls us into new things. We are unfamiliar. Mistakes are made, doubts surround, disappointments come, but always hope and confidence in Him. Eventually we get to where God wants us to be and then like an open road before us, we embrace the future and set about making a difference for Him in the place He has us in.
We finally get there and the journey only makes us look back and understand what hindsight is and that perhaps something (and I believe that it is God) has been looking out for us all along.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three sons.
Russell Modlin’s archive of previous article can be found at