I'd love to be able to report back and say it was amazing and everything I'd hoped for for his independence.
But no, I can't exactly say that.
Don't get me wrong - the independence was great. It was pretty fun to have him cruising the aisles of the grocery store on his own. But I didn't think about how I'd be screeching "WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING!!" a hundred times. Apparently, I hadn't really thought this out. You see all I've heard is how great of a driver he is at school, and I see for myself what a great driver he is at home. So why wouldn't that translate to the community?
HA! Rookie move, mom. What I didn't realize is that in the community there's alllllll sorts of distractions - distractions he's never been able to stop and focus on while someone else is pushing him. And "stop and focus" is a term I use lightly. He focuses all right - all while continuing to forge full speed ahead and not pay attention to where he's going.
I should have realized, and going forward I will. At home he knows the turns and corners like the back of his hand. Same with school. And although there are distractions at school (hello - oblivious children that he manages not to plow down!) he has spent all school year getting used to that. So choosing to take him to a busy supermarket with a busy parking lot on his first day out was probably not my wisest choice. It got a little frustrating for both of us, and by the end I think he was mad at me for barking orders at him. Can't say I blame him. That said, ignoring my request to not run over his bag of library books was not really an appropriate outlet for his frustration.
All in all, it wasn't a total nightmare. He didn't run anyone over. He didn't crash into any cars. He didn't drive off any curbs. We all made it home safe and sound although I may have a few more grey hairs.
All it's going to take is practice, and he's got the summer to master it. And now I have tempered my expectations so next time I will set him up for success. I'll take him somewhere more open and with less of a rush. And I will have practiced getting this chair in and out of the car - a new thing to learn all on its own, and not ideal in the sweltering heat - so we'll start fresh and with more energy.
This was a small bump on what's going to be a long and successful road to independence. And all said and done, I think a pretty good stab at it. Next time though, he's going to rock it. And I'll take video to prove it.
And now we both sit here much more relaxed. He is currently perusing his spoils from the library - a photo I did manage to capture.