Guest Blogs

In the Driver’s Seat with Enzo

A guest blog from Kristen’s son, who is finally behind the wheel!

I’ve been driving in one way or another for about ten years now. When I was seven, I got my first Mario Kart game on my hand-me-down GameCube. I played that endlessly, not aware that there was anything more to cars and driving, until one day, at around age ten, I borrowed Need for Speed from my neighbor, and everything changed. I started with my first car, a bright red Mazda, and went nuts. I beat all the races, I bought all the cars, and my knowledge of automobiles grew.

Fast forward seven years to today, and I’m now in my second month as a licensed driver. Yes, a licensed driver on real roads, the kind that that require driving with an actual car. Actual roads are strikingly different from the world I speed around in on my Xbox. I can’t “press Y to rewind,” I can’t participate in underground street races down at the shipyards without my parents disowning me (or going to actual real-life jail), and I can’t win races or buy my dream Lamborghini. Driving in real life is slower and easier, and a lot more fun in some ways. But still, it’s got its share of new challenges.

In my eyes, driving in video games has a few key advantages over driving in real life. Fancy cars like Bentleys and Porsches and Ferraris are commonplace, and everyone is driving one. In real life, though, I’m constantly distracted by these luxury sports cars that appear every once in a while going the other way down the highway. Every time I see one of these, I point it out to share the marvels of automotive technology to my passengers, but…”ENZO! KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD!”

I admit I can be a distracted driver when I’m surrounded by exotic cars. But what is harder is when my parents criticize something about my driving, be it nit-picking or an actual, legitimate concern. Fortunately, one of the ways around both problems is to drive by myself. When I drive by myself not only is there no audience to excitedly point out cars for; there’s no self-esteem ding when I make a mistake. Which I do — I’m new at this.

Possibly the most stressful part of driving with ADHD is having back seat (and front seat) drivers. My wonderful mother and father are great to drive with one at a time. However, on occasions where the three of us are all in the car, things can get hectic. Sometimes one of them starts to give directions, and the other chimes in to correct them. Often, the opposing set of directions will result in us getting to the same place in the same amount of time, but no matter which set of directions I follow, I end up in the middle of the tension. Then I have to do my best to tune out the arguing and try to listen for directions from my choice of parents. It makes me miss driving in a virtual world, where the only people yelling in my ear are my friends, who I can more easily ignore than my parents.

Here are a few suggestions — okay, Mom, requests — for helping a young driver with ADHD:

  • Be kind. We get it, even if we still seem a little bit distracted.
  • If we mess up, we understand that we’re messing up. We have ADHD and we’re rebellious teenagers and we’re learning; we’re not doing it to bother you!
  • One set of directions is enough. We finally made a rule in our family that only the person in the passenger seat is allowed to direct the driver. (Certain people — I’m not mentioning names here — sometimes have trouble following this rule…)
  • Be a good role model. If we do something, and get snapped at for it, it’s hard to keep our eyes from rolling when we see you doing it when you’re driving!