Last week’s blog about how easy kids have it today compared to when I was a kid opened a whole Pandora’s box of the myriad ways in which my life was harder. I am particularly reminded of how difficult it was to obtain a driver’s license as Younger Son just got his learner’s permit.

When I was his age, I had to go in person to take the handwritten test to get a learner’s permit, as opposed to taking a simple online test in which one can cheat and look up the answers. I also was required to take driver’s education in school, which consisted of a semester of classes in which they indoctrinated us with gory videos of what happens to careless drivers.

Not only did we have to view the scary videos (which were shown to us on a projector with reel-to-reel film, for those who want to really go back in time), but we had to spend a certain number of hours behind the wheel of an actual driver’s education car with a teacher who probably learned to drive on the first Model-T. I think he slept during the drives. Because there were more students than available driving time, the students who weren’t actually behind the wheel had to “observe” from the back seat. Talk about liability! But back then, before lawsuits and concern over student safety, we didn’t think anything about putting our lives on the line by being “observers” in the back seat (without seatbelts) while an inexperienced teenager operated a death trap machine. And we actually drove on real roads with real traffic. None of this driving in circles around the parking lot without real people on the street to run down. Plus, we had to learn how to change a tire.

At long last, the day came when we finished formal driver’s education and were eligible to get a real driver’s license. In my day, in order to get a driver’s license, you had to be able to parallel park. I flunked my first attempt because I knocked over the traffic cone. Talk about humiliation. Everyone knew I was going to take my test that day. I think I lied and made up some excuse like my mother couldn’t take me that day, after all. Then I practiced parallel parking for hours with my dad’s car parked a couple of car lengths in front of a neighbor’s car on the street. I’m not sure if the neighbor ever realized the peril their car was in. And did I mention our car didn’t have power steering? To make matters worse, I later discovered my father had been taking home movies of my practicing.

I finally went back to retake the parallel parking test, but to add to my performance anxiety, a friend of mine asked if she could go with us to get her learner’s permit at the same time. I had three tries to get parallel parking right. My first attempt was flawless (I thought). But the instructor said the car was too far from the curb and to do it again. Second attempt, same thing. On my third and last try, I got way off, coming within an inch of knocking over the front cone, and had to maneuver my way out and back in. I was ready to give up and just kill myself. Anything but admit to my friend I had failed. But by the grace of God, I managed to somehow manipulate the car into the spot and the instructor took pity on me and passed me. I don’t think I have ever had to parallel park to this day. I simply pull between the white lines in the parking lot. If I ever do find myself in a situation requiring parallel parking, I will simply drive off and look for another option.

Nowadays, kids don’t have to parallel park to get a driver’s license. I find that incredibly unfair. If I had to suffer, they should have to suffer. It should be a rite of passage. Of course, now there are cars that parallel park themselves, which I feel is tantamount to being dishonest. What’s next? Automatic braking? Cars that automatically turn off the headlights so you don’t risk a dead battery? Cars that keep you from drifting out of your lane? Cars that call people for you? Not having to risk being picked up by a serial killer if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere? I ask you, where is the challenge in driving anymore?

Forgive me for sounding like a bitter old woman, but if it were left up to me, not only would kids have to parallel park to get a driver’s license, they would have to take their driving test in a car with a stick shift and no power steering. That would show them how hard we had it when we were their age! And I’ll bet the eye rolling would stop.