When Noah Scalin wrote today’s prompt—make something impossible—he clearly had in mind something visual: “Can you trick the eyes into believing they’re seeing something that they’re not?”
I thought of taking the kids out for some photography fun. You know those clever photos that use creative positioning and depth to make it appear that one person is holding another standing person on the palm of the hand, or that a small child is pinching a massive truck, or that a soda can is as tall as a building?
I could have done something like that. But I didn’t. Actually, my daughters and I spent the better part of the afternoon involved in a tie dye project. (After that, I imposed a one-hour reading time so I could decompress!)
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But I had to blink my eyes at something today, saying to myself, “Surely this is an illusion.” Here’s what I saw:
This is no illusion. What you see here is my happy 15-year-old son. About 30 minutes before I shot this (very poor) photo, he got his learner’s permit to drive. On the way home, we stopped at a wide open parking lot and changed places, and Isaac drove a car for the very first time.
There wasn’t a lot of time to think. And yet as I sit here this evening, remembering the moments, I’m amazed how many things crossed my mind:
1. (And this is so cliche, but … ) My child can’t possibly be driving a car already. Just yesterday (literally) I wrote about him stacking Cheerios. And now he’s driving?!
2. I’m old.
3. Why am I not nervous? When Mom took me out to learn to drive, she clutched the car door, pushed on the floorboards with her right foot, and took in a lot of loud, sharp breaths. She was a wreck. And I was a good driver! As a mom, am I somehow doing this wrong?
4. Look how excited he is! Teenage guys don’t always grin like this. Smug and aloof is more the norm. But this is a rite of passage, and Isaac is pumped. He is genuinely happy to take the wheel.
5. I’m pumped, too! This is fun. I’m living a memory, right here, right now.
6. Hold on. Are we too carefree? No, look how cautious he’s being. He’s thinking things through, he’s concentrating. He’s even asking for guidance (another thing teenage guys don’t necessarily do).
7. Am I really this calm? Yep. And very relieved to discover that the passenger seat need not be buckled with anxiety. I think I smiled the whole time Isaac drove. I talked quietly and even cracked a few jokes and shared some memories. Unless I was gesturing right or left, my hands rested quietly in my lap, and my feet stayed still, just below my crossed ankles, resting gently on the floor mat. Not once did I gasp. In fact, I laughed. I had a great time.
8. Should I let him drive out of the parking lot? Cruising around an empty lot is one thing. Turning left onto a suburban street (four lanes and a boulevard), dealing with a stoplight and two four-way stops, then parking at home? Really? But it felt so right.
9. Give him the chance.
So I did. He raised his eyebrows at me.
“Only if you’re comfortable,” I said.
He stared at the steering wheel for a bit, and then said sure.
The kid drove me home. Perfectly. He even parked straight, right next to the curb while his dad and sisters watched.
If I hadn’t seen it myself (and if they hadn’t witnessed it, too), I might have thought it was an illusion.