As a mother of four, I’ve watched my kids grow up and reach many milestones: sitting up, rolling over, walking, potty
training, the first day of Kindergarten, elementary school graduation, middle school graduation, and in a few months, my oldest will graduate high school. Then it’s off to new and uncharted territory with college and adulthood.
So much for that safety net of knowing what comes next!
Well, we still have a few months to go. Before that, there’s getting the first government job (working for ‘the man’, because the years of working with dad do not count), and with that, the dreaded driver’s license.
Okay, we didn’t rush into getting the driver’s permit because of the increase in insurance, but now that he’s about to be eighteen, there’s no way around it. Over the past year, he’s had the chance to get behind the wheel a few times, driving in the subdivision, moving cars in the driveway…minor things that you don’t worry about. All of them dealt with dad, or another family member, riding in the car while he was behind the wheel.
After weeks of begging and the eighteenth birthday quickly approaching, there’s no more putting it off. Last Sunday I volunteered to take him, and my oldest daughter, (who is about to turn sixteen), to a parking lot to practice. My son, the video game expert, did very well, not surprising seeing as how he has been behind the wheel before. And as he likes to say, “And they say playing video games isn’t good for us.” By that he means Midnight Club, Need for Speed, and any other racing game. On the other hand, after hours of driving at breakneck speeds and running over pedestrians and various other obstacles, it makes you think twice!!
After saying a silent prayer and giving the rundown of how the car works, I strapped in, held my breath and tongue, and clutched the ‘Jesus strap’ while he took over the wheel. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was he in control, maneuvered around the turns successfully, and held a conversation, something I instigated on purpose to see how focused he was. He comfortably got up to twenty-five miles per hour without me panicking. Thirty minutes later, and I was nearly ready for him to leave the parking lot and try a different stretch of road. But alas, we have to get the correct legal documents before we step up to that level.
Then, it was my daughters turn…..
That experience was a TOTALLY DIFFERENT STORY!
First, there were the nervous jitters of being behind the wheel for the first time. After giving a second run down of how everything in the car works, for good measure, the odometer, speedometer, brake, gas, gearshift…you know the drill. It was then time to set things in motion.
I instructed her to put the car in drive, and then ease off the brake, but NOT to press the gas. I wanted the car to roll forward naturally so she could get used to the idea of being in control. Well, little did we know, when my son parked the car, the wheels were turned to the right. When the car started to roll, it rolled to the right. My daughter freaks and instead of stomping on the brake, she hits the gas! The car shot forward towards the bushes in the parking lot. She yells, I yell, and my son yells too! Somehow she finds the brake and I throw the car into park. We all look at each other for 10 seconds before laughing so hard we start crying!
Once we calmed down, my son asked her if she was nervous because I was sitting in the front. She says yes, so my son, who is now the expert driver after thirty minutes of down and back driving in an abandoned parking lot, climbs in the passenger seat. I am now in the back seat holding my breath as he walks her through it. Slowly but surely, we get started again. The first test: avoiding the ‘island’ of grass and trees jutting out from the curb. We made it! Before I knew it, she was happily stating that she was going six-miles per hour, then eight. When she made it up to twelve, she looked over at her brother and said, “I’ve got this.” I quickly reminded her that her eyes need to be focused on the road before she ‘lost it’ and wrecked the only car we have.
Needless to say, after that, everything went smoothly. An hour later, I drove out of the parking lot with two satisfied teenagers begging to get on the road again. I guess we’ll do it again next week because hey, empty parking lots aren’t that bad.
It’s the road with actual traffic that I’m not looking forward to!
And that my friends, will be a completely different blog….
Did I mention I’ll have to repeat this in a few years when my youngest kids, now ages 12 and 11, are ready to drive?????
Pray for me….. 🙂