Truly Blessed

ALS patient James Martin shares his journey.

Driver's Ed, Xanax, and My Rosary

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James Martin
Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Three boys, a girl, a boy, and a girl is the Martin family birth order. They are all different, like six points on a compass; each pointing in a different direction. Yet each must go through the the same rite of passage, driver's ed. Seven years ago we experienced our earliest near death experience when our oldest began driving. As a general rule, things get easier the more times you do it. Driver's ed is the exception that proves the rule.

This is our fourth trip through the driver's ed obstacle course and the obstacles are different. Boys react differently when their father is yelling about the oncoming semi that is about to turn our Prius into a hood ornament. They react and get out of the way. Girls, on the other hand, do not react well to dad's yelling, even about impending death. They take it personally and react unpredictably by accelerating toward death or braking suddenly, allowing the minivan behind us to perform an auto colonoscopy. Fortunately there were no polyps in the Prius exhaust pipe; being green helps in countless ways.

We went with a new driver's ed school this year. This one we found on Groupon. It was forty percent off and because we signed up right away we got a bonus, a six month prescription for Xanax. Nothing helps parents of teen drivers like anti-anxiety medication.

As I have written in the past, my illness has relegated me to the passenger seat. I am not able to drive, but ALS does not prevent backseat driving especially when riding with my teens. Too fast, too slow, lights, you're tailgating, signal, do you see that bike, OH MY GOD WE'RE GONNA DIE are a few things I expressed while riding shotgun; and that was just during one trip down the driveway. Arn't you glad I wasn't your dad when you learned to drive?

Parenting through driver's ed allows you to rediscover the interior components of the car, such as the slight indentation on the passenger side floor from pressing the invisible parent brake, the convenient vanity mirror that also reflects what is behind you and the handle above the passenger door that doubles as a rosary. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for teen drivers, now and at the hours behind the wheel. Amen.

Having another driver is truly a blessing as those compass points not only point, but head in different directions. It alleviates some of the schedule and transportation conflicts we face. So driver's ed is ultimately a good thing along with Xanax and my rosary.

Last updated: 8:23 am Monday, July 29, 2013

James Martin is a former attorney and graduate of Gonzaga University and Marquette Law School. He lives in Spring Prairie near Burlington. He has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He is married with 6 kids. James is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the Gazette staff or management.

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