The first time Najir and I talked about getting his permit, I figured it would be a simple, short, and painless process just like getting my permit had been.
We found him a pamphlet to study, and he began to take some online tests. When we rolled up to the DMV the first time, we had various forms of identification and thought we simply needed to fill out an application. Unfortunately, the front desk manager sent us away because we didn’t have the proper identification and we also needed his mother to sign his application.
We came back a couple of weeks later, armed with all the paperwork we needed and a signature. This time an angry woman at one of the windows turned us down. She told us his mother actually needed to be present.
It took a few months to find another time that we could all go. His mother doesn’t drive, and he is the oldest man in his household, with four siblings younger than him.
We finally found an early Saturday morning that we could go, so we loaded up the car with him, his mother, and two of his younger siblings. We were so excited, this was going to be the end to several months of hard work, studying, and checking schedules. His family and I sat in anticipation as he took his test. When he rounded the corner with such disappointment on his face, I didn’t know how to comfort him. The failure destroyed his confidence.
Failure is difficult for most people. I’ve found from my time working and living in Church Hill though, that failure
affects these kids more than I’ve ever seen before. Many of the kids don’t have the supportive environment that I grew up in which encouraged me and literally picked me up when I failed. Many kids with out this support, especially in school, will choose not to try rather than to try and fail.
It took several months before we tried again. We were both busy, and both a little disappointed by such a great amount of effort that ended in failure.
The final time we entered the DMV we were sufficiently prepared, but didn’t let ourselves get too excited. He sat and tested for OVER AN HOUR.
At first I sat and waited… then stood for a while… paced a bit… sat down… then changed seats. I couldn’t find a way to hide my anxiety. When he finally finished and walked around the corner, he wore a facial expression that could only mean he had passed! I tossed him the keys to my Subaru as we exited, and he drove home flawlessly, even on the highway!
A few weeks later when I was picking him up to go play ultimate, he asked if he could drive his mom down the hill to the bus stop. She filmed him the whole way and couldn’t stop smiling as he drove. I had never seen her more proud.
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