Theoden Janes

Dad to 16-year-old daughter: My car is now your car. Sort of. (But not really.)

Dearest Daughter:

I can’t believe you’re turning 16. Sixteen! Where has our time with you gone?

You, our little angel, someone with a smile that could win over a rabid Rottweiler. You, our most precious gift, someone who has brought more richness to our lives than a dozen Powerball wins. You, our shining star, someone who fills us up with such tremendous pride every time we think of the generous, resourceful, hard-working young woman you’ve become.

But now, most importantly: You, our third driver – someone who’d better take damn good care of my car.

And on that note, we need to clarify a few things before we light the candles on your cake, my sweet girl. Because I’ve overheard you Facetiming with friends and uttering phrases like “My dad’s giving me his car” and “Once I get my car...”

For the record, it’s my car. Said car is being loaned to you, by your generous, resourceful, hard-working father. (Insert winking emoji here.)

IF you pay for the new tires it will probably need next winter, and IF you buy the new brakes it will probably need the following spring, and IF you’ll pick up the 2017 county property-tax bill, then OK, it’ll be your car.

In the meantime, do you know which side of The Car That Is Dad’s the gas tank is on yet? Because you’ll need to fill ’er up once in awhile. And if you plan on using my money to do so, then yes, that thing will still be MY car.

Anyway, now that that’s established, let’s go over some important ground rules involved with borrowing my car.

Rule No. 1: No phones allowed in the car. If you need to read a text, send a text, heart an Instagram pic, or extend a Snapchat streak, you are required to pull (slowly and safely) to the side of the road to begin your search for a legal parking space. Once the car is parked and turned off, you may disengage your safety belt, remove your phone from the trunk, and walk a minimum of 15 feet away from the vehicle. At that point, you can turn your phone on to conduct your business.

Rule No. 2: No food allowed in the car. If at any point during your drive you experience feelings of hunger, remind yourself to eat a granola bar before setting out next time.

Rule No. 3: No music allowed in the car. Ed Sheeran, Migos, Zayn and Taylor Swift have no idea when and where you are listening to their music, but if they did, I would venture to guess that they – like me – would prefer you enjoy their tunes in the comfort of your own bedroom, once the car is in the garage. The exception to this rule would be if I’m in the passenger seat; then it’s OK to listen to your choice of ’80s on 8 or ’90s on 9.

Rule No. 4: Speaking of the passenger seat... no boys allowed in the car. I mean, you probably didn’t even need to be told this one. We’ve been over this: You’re not allowed to speak to, meet, or even make eye contact with boys for another two years.

Rule No. 5: Come to think of it, though... no girls allowed in the car, either. Unless they ride in the trunk, in which case you can interact with them by following the basic outline of the steps in Rule No. 1.

Cool? Good, then if you’d initial here: ____.


And sign here: ________________________________.


Then just print here: ________________________________.

Awesome. Happy 16th birthday, kiddo. Oh, and by the way, your new curfew is 6 p.m.

Janes: 704-358-5897;

Twitter: @theodenjanes