Friday, March 06, 2009

Driving Lessons

Recently, my husband and I were watching a T.V. show and the the subject of teaching teens to drive came up.

Well, you know when you say something and you don't want somebody to disagree with you, but you'd like them to at least pause two seconds before they agree with you? That's what happened.

"When our kids are 16, I think you should teach them to dri--" I started.

"Definitely," he said before I could even finish.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked.

"What? I'm agreeing with you."

"Are you saying I'm a bad driver?"

Well, this time he waited about 10 minutes. "No," he finally said.

"You are a better driver," I conceded. "And more patient."

"Yeah," he said quickly. "Plus, I think the dad should teach the driving."

This brought back memories of when, 16 years ago, my dad taught me to drive. Or tried to. I had a hard time getting a feel for the gas pedal. Usually I went too slow. Other times, I accelerated for no reason. Come to think of it, I drove a lot like my late grandmother.

By the end of the lesson, my dad and I were both so mad at each other, that I stormed inside the house. He followed me in and was like, "Um, you think you might want to take the key out of the ignition or at least turn off the car?"

While I always knew driving lessons with me were no treat, I never understood the extent of his frustration until yesterday. My mom had found an envelope stuffed with some of my old report cards and other papers. Looking through it, I found a list numbered 1-7. As I recall, these were "notes to self" my dad asked me to jot down after our driving lesson.

1. When turning left, turn into the right hand lane.
2. Stop before stop sign.
3. Stay on right side of road unless kids are in the way.
4. Cut the wheel right when turning right.
5. Move wheel before going forward when turning.
6. Don't accelerate before stop sign.
7. Pay attention to parked cars on BOTH sides of the street.

I mean, my dad must have felt like he was teaching his alien daughter how to drive. "Here on earth, we know when to stop when we see a sign saying, 'Stop.'"

Soon, my mom took over my lessons but would only drive with me in the school parking lot where she would at times be laughing so hard at my chimpanzee-like driving that she wouldn't be able to talk. My great Uncle George also threw his hat into the driver's ed ring. And my older brother, too.

Finally, they all set me loose at the DMV, where on my third try, an older gentleman passed me. I remember his exact words. "Well, sweetheart, you're not exactly queen of the road. But I'll pass you so your mom and dad don't get mad at you."

Nowadays, I think I'm a good driver. After all, I've been driving for as many years that I haven't been driving. Also, I've learned a little strategy called overcompensation. When you're not a natural at driving, you have to drive the speed limit or under, be extra courteous and avoid unfamiliar places. Eating barbeque while driving or trying to be the 117th caller are also not recommended.

I hope our kids get Justin's driving genes. If not, I'm glad he's already volunteered to be the one to teach them. I'll hang on to my Driver's Ed for Idiots list just in case he needs it.


Blogger Tim Higgins said...


I believe that attempting to teach your kids to drive is a lot like trying to teach them to be parents. It is full of love, laughter, and a great deal of frustration. You can only hope that all involved survive and that no innocent bystanders are injured in the experience.

The good news is that much like your tale here, such experiences are the stuff of great future stories.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember taking you to Ward Parkway shopping center on a Sunday. There was only one car in the whole parking lot and you sped toward it at a very fast speed. I was yelling for you to turn. then we both cracked up. And I'll never forget the time you had your 3rd wreck in 3 months. I said, "Bridget, you have to be more careful." You said, "Ma-um, I've had 3 wrecks in 3 months, that's not bad!" love, Mom

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Marvis Carswell said...

It’s good to hear that your husband has driving skills! Like you, aside from not having natural driving skills, I also have problems with my temper. Still, I’m proud to say that I haven’t been in any accident at all. Anyway, you can always just let your husband teach your kids to drive.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Laine Cameron said...

Well, I’m proud to say that I was the one who taught my 2 boys how to drive. My husband may have driving skills, but he doesn’t have teaching skills. And he was impatient with them. It doesn’t matter whether it is the mother or the father who will act as the instructor. What’s important is that your kids will learn and end up being responsible drivers.

9:02 AM  

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