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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Whelp, tomorrow afternoon, Ol’ Robbo and Youngest Gel have to appear for a hearing in Juvenile Court.

I knew it would come to this some day.  If only people had listened to me…….

. . . . . . . . . .

HA! Did I get you for even just a millisecond?

In fact we are going to Juvi, but not because the Gel’s done anything wrong (or at least not been caught), but instead because we’re going to attend a ceremony in which she, together with a batch of her cohorts, will be presented formally with their permanent driver’s licenses.

I doubt this program is unique to our County, but it at least stands out in the vicinity of Your Nation’s Capital.  When the little maniacs complete their driver’s ed courses successfully, they’re issued temporary paper licenses good for six months.  In the meantime, the DMV prints up their permanent ones and ships them not to the kiddos but to the Court.   The Court, in turn, issues them in batches of a couple hundred (maybe) per ceremony.

Ol’ Robbo has been through this drill before with Eldest.  (Mrs. R went with Middle Gel when it was her turn.)  We all assemble in the courtroom and one of the judges comes in and gavels things into session.  She (it was a she at the last one) gives a little speech about the solemnity of the occasion and the responsibility the younglings are about to take on.  Then they are shown a film about the horrors of DUI narrated by some former drunk driver as part of his sentence for killing somebody.  Next, a senior trooper comes in to lecture about the ballistic properties of things not locked down in a vehicle that comes to a sudden stop, to tell what happens when feet on a dashboard meet an expanding airbag, and to relate anecdotes about prying apart twisted wreckage and the bodies within on a dark and rainy road somewhere.  (I will say that at the last such ceremony, I really believed that the fellah’s grief in recounting such experiences was genuine.)

Then, if I remember correctly, the younglings are made to stand and take an oath about being responsible on the road.

Finally, the permanent cards are issued – not to the younglings themselves, but to their parents or guardians, with the clear message that we have both the power and the obligation to take them back if we have reason to believe the kids aren’t living up to their responsibilities.

All in all, Ol’ Robbo thinks this is a pretty nice little arrangement.  And hopefully it gets at least a few of the young idiots to think a bit harder on the fact that they’re now legally being turned loose on the roads at the controls of a couple tons of metal.

UPDATE:  It is done.  No video and I was mistaken about the pledge, but both judge and trooper regaled us with bone-chilling anecdotes and statistics.  I dunno what impact all this had on anybody else, but Youngest rather sheepishly asked me afterward if I wouldn’t mind doing the driving on the way home.  (Which was, in fact, just as well, as the county courthouse is way off the Gel’s beaten path and we got caught in rush hour traffic which, in these parts, is downright horrendous.)

UPDATED DEUX:  Ol’ Robbo knows well that we live in extremely casual, not to say slovenly, times.  But what kind of kid thinks a t-shirt and cut-offs or a backless blouse make appropriate attire to appear in court?  And what kind of parent seems to have no problem with this?  There were not a few such sets on display.

As for us, Youngest wore a modest dress and I put on a suit.  Looking about me, I murmured to the Gel that I seemed to be the only father their so attired.  She murmured back that this was because I was the only Real Man in the room.  Heh.  She could have asked anything of me at that point, even unto half my kingdom.







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June 2019