The Teenage Dream
By Carter Helschien
To adults getting a permit seems like no big deal; after all, everyone drives, right? To a teenager, however, getting one’s permit not only represents the ability to drive, but it also means freedom.
As the American Dream offers the possibility of prosperity and success to thousands of immigrants entering the United States each day, the Teenage Dream offers the possibility of freedom and independence to thousands of teenagers each day getting their learner’s permits to drive. For teenagers, the excitement in getting the learner’s permit is not so much about the ability to drive, but rather the freedom and independence from parents it represents. In Florida, teenagers must submit to the schedules and frustrating responsibilities of their parents for fifteen years. Consequently, the prospect of being able to drive on our own, to be able to go to any place that our heart desires at any time that is convenient to us, is quite attractive. As teenagers we see the ability to meet friends anywhere on our own schedule as an amazing reward of taking a step closer towards adulthood. Because, in our minds, that is really what getting a learner’s permit represents: a step towards becoming an adult and having complete independence.
After all, since birth that is all teenagers want to do: grow up and gain the power, excitement, and independence that comes along with being an adult (or, at least, that is how it looks to us). Now, though, instead of saying “I’m not seven, I’m seven and a half!” we can say, “I’m not a kid; I can drive!”
Of course, realistically, getting a learner’s permit to drive does not really offer complete independence; after all, gas is expensive, car insurance is expensive, and teenagers can’t just arbitrarily drive to a Taco Bell at midnight based on a whim. As teenagers, however, we do not take a practical approach to understanding what getting a permit means, but rather we believe that in an ideal world getting a learner’s permit is the greatest thing to ever happen to us.
Hopefully parents will come to realize that getting a learner’s permit to drive is not just some insignificant, unimportant event for a teenager. On the contrary, parents should celebrate the step towards adulthood teenagers make when they get their learner’s permit. In the end, all teenagers want is to be more like their loving parents, and getting a learner’s permit is just another way to do that.