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February 10, 1989 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-02-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

NOTEBOOK

ATTENTION:

FRANK MENDAL'S
BLOCK BUSTER

2 FOR I



After The Bar Mitzvah,
The Real 'Letting Go'

GARY ROSENBLATT

STOREWIDE SALE!!! A

Editor

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18

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1989

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t my oldest son's Bar
Mitzvah, I recited the
traditional blessing,
Baruch Sheptarani, releasing
me from the yoke of his
obligations and signaling his
new status as an adult accord-
ing to Jewish law. But while
Bar and Bat Mitzvah mark
the transition from child to
adult in religious terms, it is
only now, three years later,
that I face the modern-day
America rite of passage: My
son is about to take his
driver's test.
By the ti-me you read this,
chances are that I will have
felt the need to recite another
blessing signifying his path
to adulthood — and for his
safekeeping and protection —
as I hand him the car keys for
the first time to have him
drive off alone. I know that
things will never be the same.
Parenting is a lot about let-
ting go, and there is no other
event in today's society as
representative of that release
as watching one's teenager
get behind the wheel of a car
— license in his hand and
lump in your throat. Cars
have become the American
symbol of freedom, and
achieving the age and status
of driving a car is what
youngsters today yearn for.
Transitions like this cause
parents to feel a tug of conflic-
ting emotions — equal
measures of pride, trust and
raw fear — and one recalls
one's own passage along the
way to maturity.
I remember vividly how ex-
cited I was the summer day I
. passed my driving test, at the
age of 16, in Annapolis, hav-
ing successfully negotiated
the narrow streets of
Maryland's state capital. I
also received a powerful
lesson that day in what it
means to grow up in a small
town.
Within an hour of passing
my test, I succeeded in get-
ting my parents' permission
to take the family car out for
the first time all by myself. I
drove through town, slowly
and cautiously as only a
beginner drives, using both
hand and mechanical signals
to indicate my every turn.•
But I grew anxious when I
spotted a police car behind
me, and kept track of him in
my rearview mirror. Two or
three blocks went by and he
was still there. Perhaps I was
speeding, I worried, though

the speed limit was 25 and I
was going about 15. Still, I
slowed to 10. I continued on,
but there he was.
Maybe he isn't following me
at all, I figured. I'm just ner-
vous and a little paranoid. So
I decided to turn right, and
see if the cop would follow. He
did. I slowed to about 8 mph,
and turned right again at the
next corner. So did he.
By now I was sweating pro-
fusely, wondering what pos-
sible traffic violation I could
be committing after having
memorized the Driver's
Handbook. But as I continued
making right turns in a
square circle, the policeman
did the same. So I headed
home, probably cruising at
about 5 mph, and just before
I reached our house, the cop
cut me off and pulled me over.
I was a nervous wreck now
as he slowly walked up to my
car window and asked, in a
stern voice, to see my license.
"Isn't this Rabbi
Rosenblatt's car?" he asked
accusingly, before looking at
my license. I explained that
yes, it was, and that I was his
son and had gotten my license
that morning. "Oh," he said,
"because I've never seen you
driving his car before!" Then
he softened a bit, and told me
that he was just looking out
for the rabbi and wished me
luck as a new driver.
These past few months, •
while sitting in the un-
familiar passenger seat of my
car and going out with my son
to practice his driving skills,
I'Ve felt a bond with my late
father. Mostly, I've re-
membered how softspoken he
was when I was learning to
drive, not really appreciating
until now how he must have
controlled his anxieties so as
not to let me see them. I've
tried to be calm, too, but find I
myself slamming my right
foot down on my imaginary
brake and clutching the door
handle with my white-
knuckled right hand.
Still, I've enjoyed the time
alone with my son, giving
him "pointers" about driving
or making small talk or just
watching him grow more
relaxed behind the wheel. I've
become keenly aware of the
truth of so many cliches: the
preciousness of time, how
quickly our children grow up,
how little time we have with
them.
My son's ready for more in-
dependence, new adventures;
I'm already missing his grow-
ing up years. Just as my
father did with me.

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