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Dec 17, 2018


Things are changing fast in my household. My third boy, Robert, is now driving. He's only 16, and that to me seems far too young to be 'behind the wheel'. Thankfully, he doesn't drive very far, so the chances of(1) him getting into an accident are not high. As soon as he passed his driver's test, he bought a few things for his vehicle so he could look like and be a proper driver. Tissues, chapstick, hand sanitizer, phone charger, and gum, are of course essentials to have in the car. Then there was the lanyard. When he first mentioned it, I didn't know what he was talking about. It sounded like some boating equipment. So I looked it up.(2) Actually, it is a kind of cord or rope used to secure equipment on ships, and also used in the military. In general, however, it is a cord you put around your neck or shoulder, for your keys or ID. It seems that all high school students have these long, often colorful straps that hang out of a pocket with their car keys attached. It's a sign of being a mature driver, like a symbol of honor. It's certainly a symbol of privilege. "It's so annoying," he said to me the other day. "There are 15yr olds in the Highschool, mom, who have lanyards. Some of them don't even have  permits yet." The permit is the driving card you can get when you turn 15 and sign up for a driver's education course. With it you can legally drive with family members over 21, with or without younger siblings.(3) You are not yet allowed to drive by yourself. "Well, perhaps they use them for house keys," I replied. "That's lame," was his response. A lanyard, for him, represents all the hard work and hours of practice that he put into earning his license. And you can't miss his; it's bright red. As he walks around the high school with the lanyard hanging out of his pocket, younger students have no doubt what it all means. It's like his basketball uniform, he belongs to a group; no unqualified people allowed thank you very much. I don't have a lanyard. I'm too old for one, according to my kids. And I wouldn't want one anyway; I don't need to be part of a group. I picked up a keychain from Heathrow airport that has a blue, leather disc with a Union Jack on the inside. I love it. It reminds me, and the few other people who see it, of where this bird comes from. So, like the lanyard, it's a reminder, one that I see each time I turn the key. 

1. 'The chances of ..+ gerund'. This is a great addition to conversation: hypothesis, prediction, but quite casual.

a. The chances of him winning the race are high.

b. The chances a fair election are low.

2. 'To look something up' is to search for information either in a book, or the internet.

a. As you are new to the area, I would look up anything you need on the internet.

b. I looked up 'local plumbers' on Google; there are only three licensed ones in town.

3. 'With or without' is also a convenient and native sounding phrase to add to conversation.

a. He will achieve his goal, with or without anyone's help.

b. You can continue to improve in English, with or without a teacher.