Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal - or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation - just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you'll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you'll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.
I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary the evening I attended my 14-year-old son's band concert in our neighboring northwest Iowa town. I'd made the 21-mile trip so many times I knew where the police officer usually parks and where the deer are most likely to appear. But, this trip was different: my son drove home.

He'd passed the written test and earned his instructional permit two months earlier. We'd practiced the basics in our university's parking lot and on the two-mile route from our home to the middle school. Each time, he'd signaled, turned, and parked without incident. But, this was my first experience in the passenger's seat when he'd be accelerating to 55 miles per hour.

He was unusually quiet as we turned onto the highway, and we rode in silence for several miles. Determination to prove competence and readiness replaced the bravado I saw in the parking lot, where he had adjusted the rear view mirror and confidently waved good-bye to a friend. I folded my hands on my lap and concentrated on the dotted lines, the speedometer, and the car in front of us.

He became more talkative as his comfort level rose, but we didn't talk about driving "how tos" as I thought we might. Instead, his questions started with "what if."

"What if a deer jumps out in front of me?
"What if I'm at a railroad crossing and I can see the train, but the bars aren't down?
"What if my speedometer says I'm going 55, but the cop says I was going 60?"

Our discussion about the challenges of driving at dusk in a rural community, the cross at the railroad crossing four blocks from our house, and the importance of being a courteous driver segued to issues beyond basic learn-to-drive instructions. One subject led to another: friendships -- peer pressure -- responsibilities -- consequences.

Thirty minutes later, we pulled into the garage. I congratulated him, and he ran into the house to announce his return. I sat in the car for another minute, somewhat surprised that it hadn't been as difficult to ride shotgun as I thought it would be.

It did, however, emphasize the speed at which he's accelerating toward adulthood ... and how important my time in the passenger seat is.

Journal Entry: Write about a time you were in the "passenger seat." What did you learn from your child?

Karna ConverseĀ is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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