It is a rite of passage…turn 16, get your drivers license. For my grand nephew, Xander Spethman, today is that rite of passage day. Soon he will be able to take himself out on dates and not have to find a ride. He will be able to drive himself to school, and of course, run errands for his parents. I’m not sure how long that will be fun, but most kids like it for a while, because it means they get to drive. Nevertheless, I think that Xander’s younger siblings will reap the benefits of Xander having a driver’s license.
When it comes to school, Xander is all about football…with a little studying on the side. He is a great player, and already has colleges looking at him for recruitment, and offering every type of scholarship imaginable, to meet his every academic desire. Not bad for a kid who is just a freshman in high school. Xander has always been good in sports, and especially in football. He just understands the sport and what he needs to do to be successful in the sport. Last year, Xander went to football camp at Black Hill State University, and really learned a lot. He plans to attend the same camp this year, but he as also been invited to a camp at the Colorado School of Mines for their football camp. They are interested in looking at Xander for recruitment into their football program. It’s an exciting offer for a kid of his young age.
Of course it isn’t the only sport he is good at. Xander, like every member of his family knows how to shoot a gun and how to be safe with one. His dad, Steve takes Xander and brothers Zack and Isaac hunting very year, and this year they also plan to do some fishing. Xander and his family have always been close, and while Xander’s interests are changing, I know that he will always enjoy the “man sports” with his dad and brothers. And of course, Xander is an amazing gentleman to his mom, Jenny and his little sister, Aleesia, and to all women. They always know that the men of the family are there to protect them. Xander is quickly becoming a man, and he is going to do amazing things in his future life. Today is Xander’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Sixteen years…that is the amount of time that has passed since the horrific 9-11 attacks on America. It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed. When I think about the victims of those attacks, I am saddened to think that the beautiful potential their lives had was stripped away from them in an instant. I think about the families they left behind to mourn their loss. And I think about the babies that arrived after the attacks, who would never know their dads. This year marks another milestone those babies will have without their dads…getting their driver’s license….as well as possibly dating. Their dads have missed so many milestones already, and it was just so unfair. Those men went to work that day, fully expecting to come home, but evil doesn’t care.
I think about the children who were lost in the attacks. Their lives were cut short before they even had a chance to grow up, and fulfill their life’s full potential. Some of them hadn’t even started school yet. They didn’t get the chance to graduate from high school, which many of them would now have done by now. Their potential to be a productive member of society was squashed in a matter of a few hours on that September day, sixteen years ago, because evil doesn’t care.
I am sad for the men and women, who worked in the offices of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, who simply went about their day, doing the things they had planned, only to have everything ripped out from under them in a moment. Their futures were so bright. They were going places. They had studied and learned their trade, and now they were the people who were ready to go out and change the world. Their dreams were so quickly over. They would do no more. Their chance was gone. And the people on the planes, innocently traveling to their destination…forced to become a bomb in the plot to kill so many. Life for all of them ended that awful day, because evil doesn’t care.
I think of the emergency workers who ran into the buildings…the same way they always do in an emergency, fully expecting to bring the people out and save their lives. They ran in, but most of those who went in, did not come back out that day. So many of the higher ranked firefighters had to be quickly replaced with firefighters who were less experienced in leadership, because the leaders were gone. So many people in so many areas of the United States and the world had to try to go on with the emptiness that was left by the loss of so many, in all walks of life. The nation had to rebuild…move forward…and deal with the feelings of grief, anger, and loss that the attacks left behind…that hate left behind, because evil doesn’t care about the life it destroyed. Evil just doesn’t care.
Most people in the United States consider driving a car a right, but in reality it is a privilege, and must be earned. At 15 a child may obtain a permit to drive with a licensed driver by taking a written exam. Then in a year, or at age 16, they have to take a written and driving test to get a license. The driving test can be waived if they have completed driver’s education. The exams are pretty basic, and in this country, most people pass the test on the first try, and if not on the first try, most pass on the second try. The first driving test was administered in 1899 Chicago and New York City. Massachusetts and Missouri were the first US states to require a license for driving a motor vehicle in 1903. Pennsylvania’s 1909 licensing laws were the first to give an age restriction “18 years of age” and the first state to allow 16 year olds to drive, if they were accompanied by a licensed driver, was Connecticut in 1921. I’m sure that prior to these times most people didn’t have one of the new fangled automobiles, so a license was not needed.
The United Kingdom made the move to require testing on March 24, 1934, and the requirements were a little different than in the United States. The test must be taken in order to receive a full license, and also to add full entitlements to an existing license. The test varies, depending on the class of vehicle that is to be driven, and is administered by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency or DVSA, in Great Britain and the Driver and Vehicle Agency, or DVA in Ireland. Those parts of the program seem to be just like here in the United States, but from there on out, there is a pretty big difference. In the United Kingdom, the minimum age at which one can take a driving test is currently 16 for mopeds and 17 for cars, with an exception allowed at 16 for those on the higher/enhanced rate of the mobility component. In addition to a driving licence, a CBT certificate may be required before a moped or motorcycle is ridden.
In Great Britain around 1.6 million people take the practical car test per year. Approximately 43% of those who take it pass the test, and the theory test has a pass rate of about 51.6%. Now I don’t know what you think, but I think the kids in this country would be pretty upset if only half of those who took the test got to actually drive legally. Then again, maybe kids would study harder for the test in that case. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a kid say, “It’s all common sense.” My thought is, “What wealth of knowledge about driving a car is a 15 year old, who has never driven one, going to have.” The answer is obvious…to the parents anyway. If they don’t study, they will likely not pass, but what of the people of Great Britain and Ireland. They know the test is difficult. My guess is that they do study, but that the test is a much more advanced version than those in the United States. Maybe it’s because they want it to be more than just common sense. I’m not saying our tests are too easy…but it’s something to consider when you look at the statistics.
Every year, in the tradition my grandparents started, the Byer family gathers to celebrate the Christmas season together, and to keep my grandparents’ dream alive. It was their desire that their children wouldn’t drift apart after they were gone. The family has done their very best to honor their wish, and the Byer Family Christmas Party is a big part of honoring that wish. Over the years, we have all worked together or split the hosting into families, but the party has always been held. Santa Clause has shown up to talk to the kids, bags of treats for the little ones were always given out, and the food…the best in the world. But, the most important part of these wonderful gatherings is the family. Re-connecting with all of them and hearing all about what is going on in their lives…that’s what it’s all about…that’s the dream that our grandparents had for us. The connection to family.
This year I had a chance to hear about how well Autumn Beadle is doing in school, and her plans to graduate at semester in her senior year, and then it’s on to Nursing School for her. I got to see how much she cares for her grandma, my Aunt Virginia. I got to touch base with Aunt Dixie, Uncle Jim, and their family. We used to see them at the mall a lot, but in recent years that hasn’t worked out so well. I ran into Michael and Deena McDaniels on Black Friday, and we laughed about our shopping trials tonight. I had seen Missy and Mindy Grosvenor at the movies on Thursday, and we had a chance tonight to discuss how much we liked “A Christmas Candle” tonight, as well as how much they like taking care of their niece, Piper and sometimes her brother and sister, Parker and Payton. Cousins, Clyde and Susie Young spend much of their winter months in Arizona these days, but they were able to get home for the holidays and the party.
Anthony McDaniels showed up in a suit, adding a special touch of class to our party, while Shai Royce and Christina Masterson dressed up as twins, even though they are not. Aunt Bonnie’s little grandson, Noah spent the latter part of the evening trying to give her a bunny tail. Aunt Sandy has been a mainstay for information for some of the great stories I have been able to relay about the Byer Family, and has also spent several afternoons with my mom this year at the Senior Center, which my mom has cherished and fully enjoyed. The party has brought Elmer Johnson back into our lives after a time of not being able to be there, and since he and I have connected on Facebook too, we have grown to be even better friends than we were as kids. Aunt Jeanette is doing well, and always brings a smile to my face with her awesome laugh. Corrie and Kevin Petersen and their boys Christopher and Josh have been busily planning for Chris to start college in Sheridan next year and Josh to get his driver’s license. Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George were not able to join us this year, but their granddaughter, Rachelle French took lots of pictures for them so they would not feel left out.
This year’s highlight, however, had to be the idea someone had to open up bags of cotton balls for the little kids to play with. It turned into a cotton ball/snow ball fight, and everyone had a wonderful time. Xander, Zack, Isaac, and Aleesia Spethman; Kya and Noah Hamilton; Logan and Lea Orr; Mateo Steiner and Dera Elvidge; Noah Williams; Parker, Payton, and Piper Dobson; Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna Masterson all had a wonderful time picking up, loading up on, and throwing those cotton balls. I don’t know who thought of it, but it was a great idea.
When my grandson, Caalab was 5 years old, he came up to me when we were getting ready to leave to take him, his sister, and his cousins to school, and said, “Good news Grandma!! I just got my driver’s license!! So…I’ll drive!!” I laughed and told him, “I don’t think so.” Of course, he was joking, because that was what Caalab did, and still does. I have thought about that funny little statement many times in the years that have followed, and it has always put a smile on my face. Today, that statement will no longer be a funny little joke, because today, Caalab is 16 years old, and will be going this morning to get his driver’s license. I can’t believe that the years have gone by so fast.
There are those who wish this day hadn’t arrived, and the one I never would have expected is Caalab’s sister, Shai. For so many years, she had wished that she wouldn’t have had a brother, and would gladly have sold him to the highest bidder, or even the best offer, but in the last couple of years. The opinion Shai has of her brother has softened tremendously. She has been taking him to school and other places since she started driving, and while that hasn’t always been wonderful, mostly it was good. Now she is feeling a little bit sad that she won’t be doing that anymore. It feels a little bit lonely, I’m sure. Shai wishes her brother wasn’t going to be driving, because with both of them working and getting out of school at different times next year, they just won’t get to see each other as much as they had when Shai was taking Caalab to school. Nothing will be the same again, probably not for the rest of their lives. Life moves so fast, and sometimes we just don’t notice until the moments have passed us by. Yes, they will always be sister and brother, but they will be busy with their own lives.
I know how she feels. As life changes, it always seems like there is a little twinge of sadness. When they come into my office to show me their license, and then I watch them leave, it feels like you have just turned that little 5 years old loose on the street…in a car…alone!!! It just doesn’t seem possible that they have grown up so quickly, but they have, and will continue to grow up, because non of us can stop the hands of time. Time marches on, and old things are left behind.
So, today when my grandson, Caalab comes into my office to show me his license, I’ll do my best to smile and not shed a tear. We’ll take his picture, like we did his sister and his cousin when they got their licenses. We will all be excited that he is beginning this new phase in his life. No one will have to go pick him up anymore, or plan things around the time he gets off work, because he can take himself now. Still, in the memory files of my mind, I will always see that little 5 year old boy saying, “Good news Grandma!! I just got my driver’s license!! So…I’ll drive!!” Today is Caalab’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!!
As my oldest grandson, Chris turns 17 years of age, I find myself wondering just where the years have gone. I was there when he was born, and I’m certain it was just last week. Now he has grown so tall and handsome. He has been driving by himself for a year now, and that has changed things for his whole family, as he picks up his brother, Josh from school and drives him to games and to school. Chris, having a driver’s license has changed a lot of things…but how could he already be 17 years old.
Recently, Chris has taken an interest in cooking, and is not only cooking at his job, but he likes to cook at home too. He likes to bake as well, and has brought cookies to those of us blessed enough to receive some of them. He has a natural talent for cooking, and I would have to say that he comes by it naturally. His dad, my son-in-law, Kevin is an excellent chef as well. It is a blessing for my daughter, Corrie, because she not only gets help in the kitchen sometimes, but she also gets some excellent food too.
Chris is planning to take some college classes in his senior year of high school, to get ahead of the game for college, where he plans to get a business degree. How in the world could that baby, who was born just a week ago, be talking about college already?? How could he be talking at all?? He should still be a baby, not almost a grown man. Nevertheless, here we are…at his 17th birthday, the baby is gone, and in his place stands a young man of whom I am very proud. And while I hate the fact that he is growing up so fast, I love the man he is becoming. He is a good man, who doesn’t get into trouble. He is a hard worker, who is determined to make something of himself. He is a good student, who works hard for his grades. He is a mechanic in training, under the watchful eye of his dad. And most of all, he is a good Christian man, who loves God, and that, is the most important thing of all.
Today my first grandchild turns 17 years old. I can hardly believe that day is here already, and I couldn’t possibly be more proud of him. Happy birthday Chris!! we are all so proud of all your accomplishments. Have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!
On February 28th, my oldest grandson, Chris turned 16. It was an epic day in his life. He got his driver’s license, and got to start driving his own car to school, as well as picking up his brother, which they both think is cool. With that license will come driving himself to and from work, and other errands for himself and his parents. It is a great time in a kid’s life…usually.
And it was for Chris too…until today. Chris was in his swimming class today. His swimming teacher wants the kids to warm up before getting into the pool, and so they run relay’s on the wrestling mats that are in between the pool and the bleachers. The mats are there to keep the kids from slipping and spraining an ankle. In theory this might work, but Chris caught his toe on the mat, bending it over, under the rest of his foot, and fell.
Chris figured he had broken his toe, and that there wasn’t much to be done with it. So, he went through the rest of the school day, Wendy’s for lunch, picked up his brother, Josh, and then to work to get his check. The he decided to stop and show it to his grandma…me. We talked about it a bit, and in looking at it, I felt like it might be more than a broken toe, and called his mom, my daughter, Corrie.
Chris was very concerned about going to Urgent Care, because if they had to cast his foot, he might not be able to take his driving final for Driver’s Ed. That would mean a completely wasted quarter, because he would fail Driver’s Ed. That would also mean that he would not get the discounts that go with having completed the course. I tried to reassure him that perhaps they could wrap his foot today and cast it after his driving class, but he still left my office a little worried…both about his final, and his job at Johnny J’s Diner.
Corrie and Kevin, left work immediately and took Chris to Urgent Care. They took 3 x-rays and determined that he had broken the bone that connects his toe to the upper part of his foot. He basically tried to rip his toe off and that caused a half circle break. That was the bad news. The good news is that at least for tonight, he was given a boot cast, which can be taken off for his driving final…whew!! The rest of the good news is that he was cleared to work, since his job doesn’t require heavy use of his foot. That was a big relief to both Chris and his manager.
Chris will still have to go see an Orthopedic doctor, but the news looks pretty good. Chris will have to adapt his driving a little, but I’m sure he can manage that. He is pretty good at adapting to the the changes in his life. In fact, his dad, Kevin took him out in his car tonight to see how it would go, and he did very well. He will still take off the boot for the driving final, but he is going to do ok. Chris is very motivated, because he is one of the top two kids in the class and he doesn’t want to lose his standing. I know he will come out on top of this situation, but all I can say is…what a way to start sixteen.