Menu Close

Anxiety Rears it’s Ugly Head: Why I Hate Teaching My Kids to Drive

Concussion, anxiety and moving on.

Anxiety Rears it’s Ugly Head: Why I Hate Teaching My Kids to Drive

I hate teaching my kids to drive. That’s no secret. I’ve written about it here numerous times. But I had a sudden epiphany the other day. It isn’t about the driving. It isn’t about getting in a moving vehicle with a teenager who has no idea what they are doing (as crazy as that is and let’s be honest, it’s CRAZY).

It has to do with me.

Concussion, anxiety and moving on.

I’ll be honest, Apollo’s recent concussion shook me up. It’s a horrible thing to see a child knocked out and disoriented. Rushing Apollo to an emergency room brings back floods of traumatic memories for me. Some of the worst days of my life have been spent in a hospital with my youngest child. I have seen fear in the doctor’s eyes as they care for my son. You don’t forget that look.

Those feelings run deep.

Apollo’s concussion brought back fear and anxiety that has retreated the last few years as Apollo’s health has improved. And I suddenly realized why I hate teaching my kids to drive.

Double aortic arch operation seattle children's hospital

Why I Hate Teaching My Kids to Drive

When Adalia was 16 or 17 and still just had her permit she was driving Apollo and myself down to Seattle. It was a great way for her to gain experience while knocking off a few of her required 50 hours of driving.

This was before Apollo had his g-tube and much of my day was taken up with trying to get just one more bite of food into his body. On this day we had stopped at McDonald’s and gotten Apollo french fries (which he loved). He was in his rear-facing car seat while Adalia drove and I sat in the passenger seat. I was passing fries back one or two at a time when I suddenly realized Apollo was choking.

We were going seventy miles per hour down the freeway with my not-yet-licensed teenager at the wheel. We had just passed a “rest stop ahead” sign. I had to make a split second decision and I chose to tell my daughter to floor it so we could get to the rest stop as quickly as possible. As soon as we pulled off I grabbed Apollo out of his car seat and performed the Heimlich maneuver. It was a good ten or fifteen minutes before Apollo was breathing smoothly enough and we were calm enough to resume our drive.

A double aortic arch means Apollo has a difficult airway.

Anxiety and the Impossible Choice

It dawned on me the other day that the reason I feel so much anxiety about teaching my kids to drive comes from the day Apollo choked while Adalia was driving. I had to decide whether to have Adalia pull over on the freeway or floor it to get to the rest stop. Climbing in the back and yanking a choking toddler out of a moving vehicle wasn’t a valid option.

None of them seemed like good choices. I felt the utter helplessness that I have experienced over and over in Apollo’s short life. And now, those feelings are somehow connected to and mixed up with teaching my younger kids to drive.

And it sucks.

Apollo and his pulmonologist at Seattle Children's Hospital.

I’ll be perfectly honest with you, as I’ve been keeping Apollo from climbing and jumping as his head heals I have had to fight the overwhelming urge to wrap him up in bubble wrap and squash the active little boy instincts. Everything seems potentially dangerous at the moment.

Thankfully, I am aware these feelings are stemming from anxiety, not from the world we live in. My fear is bigger than the actual danger. It is a state of hypervigilance from years of stress and secondary trauma.

Once again, I am reminding myself, it’s okay to not be okay.


  1. A Dozen Davises

    I have a similar issue. I was in a wreck with my oldest daughter driving and two other kids as passengers twelve years ago when she was sixteen. The feeling of helplessness and lack of control was overwhelming (we were also on the highway going 70mph). We all walked away with only bruises, thank God. Six kids have gotten their license since then, but I still have four kids that need to learn to drive. Happily my husband does a lot of the driving with them, and I usually face my fears and do it too. For some reason I haven’t been able to bring myself to drive much with the current permit holder. I’m hoping to remedy that during the summer months. Anyway, I’m right there with you.

    • Renee

      Thanks for sharing this. Chuck is happy to do the driving with the kids when he is around, but he works construction and is gone from 5 am to 7 pm this time of year so it currently falls on me.

  2. Nicole

    I havd three children adopted from foster care with FASD, ADHD, RAD, and PTSD. It wasn’t until I never slept one night during a windy storm that I realized I had taken on some of my son’s PTSD. Every time the wind blew and the house creaked, I thought it was him up and scared and my heart would start racing. I’ve since shut my bedroom door to try and not be listening intently so much, but hypervigilance always in the background.

  3. Roxanne

    Renee, may God bless you a million times over! I read your prev post, its okay to not be okay, and this one now; I have experienced my share of depression and intense anxiety over the past 8 years and totally understand what an exceptionally horrible thing it is to go through. You will be fine!! It gets much better and you learn to control yourself and your mind in ways you would never think are possible. God is awesome, has never changed and is more than able to help you mentally get back up, im writing this from personal experience 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.