Student Driver to the Power of Five

A Fun Perk of Being a Quintuplet

With big white vans swaying side to side and five backseat drivers, you could say my life has been a joy ride since my quintuplet siblings and I got our permits.

Photo Courtesy of Kassidy Wilkinson

With big white vans swaying side to side and five backseat drivers, you could say my life has been a joy ride since my quintuplet siblings and I got our permits.

Kassidy Wilkinson, Reporter

There’s nothing better than some healthy competition. The competitors, from oldest to youngest, are Kassidy, Kaydence, Rustin, Kyndall and Ryder. Each is competing for the remarkable title of the best quintuplet, or quint, driver. For the Wilkinson quintuplets, there’s only one simple rule: no backseat driving.

Since the time my siblings and I took our first breath of fresh air nearly 15 years ago, my mom has dreaded two things: potty training and teaching us to drive. While the days of potty training boot camp are long gone, she still has at least 200 hours ahead of her to spend clinging to the passenger seat of our 12-passenger van, nicknamed “The Beast.”

Something I didn’t realize until the first time I sat behind the wheel was that big, white vans have a harder time staying in the middle of their lane. No matter the road or time, the people behind us probably think there’s a 5-year-old in the driver’s seat because of how often we sway side to side. Let me tell you, there’s nothing more exciting than driving on Anderson Mill Road, trying your hardest to concentrate on the road in front of you when all of a sudden you hear seven loud voices screaming at you to move over. Remember the “no backseat driving” rule from earlier? Not a single one of the five quints can keep from breaking it.

The first time I tried to park “The Beast” in our driveway, I had one brother on my right telling me what he thought to be the perfect time to turn the car, another brother on my left complaining about how long I was taking, a sister somewhere in the car making an obnoxious display of gripping tightly to her surroundings, and another sister telling everyone to stop talking over all the noise. With all the voices around me, I pressed on the gas when I was only a couple of inches away from the garage door. Everyone, including me, screamed as I quickly slammed the brake pedal. We made it out alive, but it became apparent to my siblings that backseat driving was the equivalent of standing at the edge of a very tall, very dangerous cliff.

Since the time my siblings and I took our first breath of fresh air nearly 15 years ago, my mom has dreaded two things: potty training and teaching us to drive. While the days of potty training boot camp are long gone, she still has at least 200 hours ahead of her to spend clinging to the passenger seat of our 12-passenger van, nicknamed “The Beast.””

— Kassidy Wilkinson

Another perk of having five student drivers is we all seem to think we know where we’re going. It’s almost as if our permits made us think we were magically given a sense of direction. This was a problem when a month ago, my mom and dad went to a wedding in California, bringing our grandma to watch over us. While they were gone, a friend invited us to go ice skating at The Crossover near the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park for his birthday. Kaydence, always eager to drive, decided she would drive us to the party. What should have been a short 18-minute drive, however, turned into an hour. For the longest part of the drive, we could see our destination only half a mile away. 

As we were nearing the end of our drive, we came to an intersection. There were two options: go straight or turn left. My brothers, thinking they knew what they were talking about, told Kaydence she should turn. Only one left turn later, they realized they made a mistake: We were supposed to go straight. They both got mad, explaining how the other had made the wrong judgment. In the midst of it all, Grandma Gober was trying to figure out how to work Google Maps, but couldn’t understand it. Eventually, we did make it to the birthday party – nearly an hour late with my brothers still fighting, but we made it.

Now for the million-dollar question: “Who gets to drive?” Anytime we go anywhere, a debate breaks out among my siblings.  One side claims they called it first, while the other insists that our mom promised them they could drive. After tears are shed and bribes given, my mom, Rachelle Wilkinson, is the final judge. From there, the winner gets to drive away on a chariot made of chair foam and gray leather.

To track our driving, we use an app called Road Ready. At first my mom was going to make a huge spreadsheet, but then our friend, Nolan Park, introduced the app he uses. It’s really easy to work. You just go into the app and click “start drive” then go back in there when you’re done driving and click “stop drive,” super simple. This is also how we keep track of who has the most driving time. As of right now, Kaydence is in the lead, Ryder is next, then Rustin, Kyndall, and I’m last – by a couple of hours.

At this point in my life, most of my friends have started telling me about the glorious cars their parents have bought for them. Sadly, my parents won’t be buying five cars for us to drive around, as I think our neighbors would have a cow if that was the case. Instead, the current plan is one car for the girls and boys each. I’m not sure how this will work out when we all get jobs, but I think we’ll manage somehow.

I get asked who the best quint driver is a lot. Regrettably, I’m not the best, but as to who is, I can’t say. The unspoken rule of being a quintuplet is there’s never a best. To keep peace in our house, I simply answer this question with a laugh and make a joke about my own driving, but I never truly answer it. For now, let’s just say that a couple of my siblings make me wonder why any parent would willingly teach their kid how to drive.

There are lots of moments that have found a permanent home in my brain, some of them good and some of them bad. People ask me what it’s like, but I’ve honestly never known anything other than my large family. I would say that being a quint and a student driver is thrilling. While there are a lot of backseat drivers, there’s also a lot of cheerleaders rooting for me as I maneuver my way around hard turns and steep driveways. Of course, if anyone told me they would want to have five student drivers in their house, I would tell them they’re crazy.