Look out, world: Two teenagers in the house, and one is driving

In the past two weeks, we hit a couple of significant milestones in the Joetopia household.

The first was Mr. Big Seventh-Grader’s 13th birthday, which was actually noteworthy only in name because he’s already been acting like a teenager for the better part of the past year.

This is a kid who never wants to be caught in the act doing anything, even very minor infractions. He’d deny the sky was blue, if being blue were somehow a bad thing and if he had been in some way connected to its unfortunate blueness.

He’s also preternaturally sure of himself, possessing a self-confidence that sometimes makes us wonder just where his chromosomes came from.

As part of his coming of age as a 13-year-old, perhaps the most visible change was that he was able to join Facebook. That in itself is a testament to his premature maturity, seeing as how most postmillennials want nothing to do with the granddaddy of social media platforms.

His sister’s been on Facebook for two years, and I still can barely elicit a response even after flooding her page with cute cat clips and delicious-looking time-lapse cooking videos.

The boy, however, has a real strain of showmanship in him and seems to have realized there’s a great big world of potential audiences out there, so why limit it only to his schoolmates on Instagram?

For her part, Mrs. Joetopia is a reluctant Facebooker just like her daughter, so it’s nice to have someone in the nuclear family actually paying attention to all the pithy things I have to say.

The other notable event last week was Little Miss 10th-Grader finally getting up the courage/having her arm twisted enough to go get her driver’s permit — a full eight weeks after she became eligible.

For reasons I don’t understand but that follow teen trends I’ve read about, she wasn’t in a big hurry to get behind the wheel.

Part of it may have been she was afraid of the written test, which is odd seeing as it’s about the most common-sense exam you’ll ever take.

Or maybe she was just leery about actually operating a 3,000-pound vehicle on public roads.

After some hemming and hawing, she agreed to get the permit test out of the way, with not-so-little brother tagging along for kicks.

When he got tired of reading his book, he entertained himself by taking photos, which he then posted on Facebook with this comment: “The DMV in ‘Zootopia’ is actually faster than the real DMV and they have sloths working there.”


Of course, the girl did fine, missing only one question, and so she was cleared for the next step: taking her first lesson behind the wheel. Once that was out of the way, we would be free to employ her as our personal unpaid chauffeur.

But then that became a bit angst-filled as well when Mom sent a group text announcing the lesson had indeed been scheduled.

“What? What is going on? Ah,” the girl wrote back, adding four scared-faced emojis.

“You go driving on real roads!” I answered.

“I don’t want to drive,” she replied, scrunched-up face emoji.

“Why? What’s your issue?”

“I have no idea how to drive and now just have to go out on the road and do it. ... I’m going to kill someone ... or crash ... or only drive 5 mph.”

OMG, silly girl.

It’s driving, not splitting the atom.

I promised to take her out ahead of time for a few spins around the high school parking lot.

We did, and aside from her at times handling the steering like it was bathed in radioactive isotopes, she did fine.

“Don’t scooch your hands when you’re turning,” I told her. “Always grab the wheel on top and go hand over hand.”

Back at home afterward, Mr. Big Seventh-Grader could only shake his head and declare how HE was going to drive as soon as he could.

This, I believe.