Molly, Me and the DMV

Molly and I sashayed into the DMV yesterday blindly confident in our ability to get her a learner’s permit.

After all, we’d been down that white-knuckled, watch-your-intervals, release-the-pedal-slowly road three times before. From her rising back seat vantage point, Molly watched as two older brothers and an older sister learned to drive, while I sat calmly “YOU’RE VEERING OVER THE CENTERLINE!” in the passenger seat.

We had this down.

Turns out more than our confidence was blind, and our organizational skills could use some work too.

Our story went like this:

Four blocks away on our first trip to the DMV, I asked Molly if she had her paperwork.

“I thought you had it,” she said.

False start.

Round two saw us circumnavigating the massive construction that blocked our entrance to the DMV, with a slick U-Turn near a highway overpass. We zipped in and parked next to a truck with a freshly dented fender. I hoped it wasn’t an omen.

An oddly empty waiting area greeted us and Molly stepped up to the information desk.

“Learner’s Permit?” the official asked.

“Yes indeed,” we said.

“Can I see your Social Security card?”

We flashed back to our frantic search through kitchen files, during which we hurled old savings bonds, store receipts, birthday cards, expired passports and one inexplicable copper coupling all over the room in a futile attempt to find said card.

“I don’t have the actual card,” Molly sweetly replied. “But I do have my passport, birth certificate, and notarized forms.”

“We’re going to need the actual card.”

Molly gave me a pointed stare as the memory of my super certain speech echoed in our heads.

“Molly, I’ve had three kids go through this process. I know for a fact that they don’t need the actual card. They just need your Social Security number. Trust me,” I had said following our failed search.


“You can take these forms over there and they may be able to help you,” said our gatekeeper.


Molly took a seat in the empty waiting area and heard her name called three times before she remembered that “Mary Margaret” was actually her.

She took a cute picture, which pleased us both, and we headed over to the final hurdle.

“Look into the monitor and read off what you see,” said the monotoned worker.

Molly rattled off a few letters, which inspired such a look of incredulity in our government worker, that I quickly slipped Molly her reading glasses.

“Try again,” I said to Molly.

“Thank Mom,” said the clerk.

Molly hunched over the monitor and tried again.

“I’m going to pass you but I have to ask, when was your last eye exam?”

“Seventh grade?” Molly guessed.

“No way!” I said.


Molly clutched her unlikely permit (which noted a need for corrective lenses) triumphantly as I slunk away.

I’m a big believer in plenty of road work in preparation for an actual driver’s test and we plan to start immediately. First stop, the optometrist.

Empty DMV
I have never seen such an empty DMV waiting room.
Eye test
In all fairness, the vision test monitor clearly was not made for tall girls.
Molly getting gas
First post-learner’s permit lesson? How to fill the gas tank in your mother’s car. Next lesson? How to wash it.
Try taking a left turn through this mess. Things got hairy before we even arrived at the DMV.
Try taking a left turn through this mess. Things got hairy before we even arrived at the DMV.

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