Niece #1 is in driving school this week. What?! I know. I know.

You can guess the conversations that have gone on this spring building up to one of our clear, tangible, (and risky for parents) rights of passage.

Being middle-aged is like being in a movie with flashback scenes. It has been years since I thought about learning to drive, yet now the memories float to the forefront.

Learning to Drive

My first driving experience was in 7th grade. I had gone with my dad to a work site. I remember sitting in the car and reading Something About Joey as I waited for Dad to finish. When he did, he asked if I wanted to learn to drive. Sure! We drove around a big, empty, dirt site.

In my next driving memory, I was soon to get my driving permit and my family was driving to Southern Colorado to visit my grandparents. We were taking deserted, narrow highways and Dad thought it would be good to practice driving a large van with my entire family in it. Overall, a reasonable idea! As the oldest, two crucial life lessons emerged for my sisters and me:

1. Do not drive over a cattle grid at full speed. If you don’t slow down, you will bounce every passenger so hard they will hit the ceiling. And squawk.

2. When you want to stop a vehicle, do not stomp on the brake pedal or you will send your mother and two sisters flying off to the back bench (pre-mandatory seatbelt days). They will all remember it for the rest of their days and most likely will still be talking about it in the life to come. Instead, gently push on the brake.

The final driving memory I’ll share also involves my dad (I think we practiced driving as much with Mom as with Dad, so I’m not sure why all of my memories are with Dad.). In addition to the big Dodge van, we had some small car with the emergency brake being a pull-up handle between the drivers. Dad would ride in the passenger seat with his hand on the brake, ready to pull it up at a moments notice. Really, was that necessary? Had I not already demonstrated my amazing braking ability?!

Let’s stop talking about driving here, because it was shortly after I got my license that I totaled two cars in one early morning adventure.

Were you a reluctant driver, or maybe a little over eager?What memories do you have of learning to drive?

P.S. Having lived for years in a country where I didn’t drive, it was alway weird to see American friends driving in America for the first time. I know you can … but it’s still weird!

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  1. Mike June 21, 2016 at 9:38 am - Reply

    Conversation that takes place in China between my son and I as I ask him questions about driving infractions that we witness in preparation for him taking the driving test in America the coming summer:

    Me: What was wrong with that lane change?
    Son: Umm…nothing.
    Me: Don’t you think it got too close to the other car?
    Son: Dad, there was at least five centimeters (about two inches) between the two cars!

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      Amy June 21, 2016 at 11:09 am - Reply

      Oh this makes me smile. I LOVE driving stories :)!!!

  2. Luray June 21, 2016 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    Back in the day when malls where still closed on Sunday, my Dad took me to Macy’s parking lot. We would drive around and practice parking in the lot spaces. I don’t remember parallel parking practice but am fairly sure that must have taken place. My parents were divorced at the time so my Dad and I had a standing dinner date on Wednesdays. The day I received my permit was one of our nights. I went directly to the drivers door and told my Dad to scoot over b/c I was driving. I believe his comment, with a smile, may have been, “Oh Lordy”. From then on I would drive if it was around town.

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      Amy June 22, 2016 at 8:01 pm - Reply

      Luray, I love, love, love hearing people’s stories. Thinking of you and your dad practicing at the mall and then the “Scoot over Dad” — makes me smile!

  3. Erin ONeill June 21, 2016 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    I remember making my dad carsick because I couldn’t shift smoothly. My sister remembers sitting on the sidelines cracking up at my inability and Dad’s frustration. Niece #1, be prepared to give the other parent (or aunt!) a chance at driving instruction if you wear out the first parent. Good luck!

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      Amy June 22, 2016 at 7:36 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad we learned to drive on stick-shifts, but it was hard on our parents!

  4. Heather June 22, 2016 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    Oh so many memories! Less driving practice with my mom as she was always stepping on the imaginary brake pedal on the passenger side. Then the first time my dad let me drive, we coasted (coasted!) around the block as he wouldn’t let me step on the gas pedal. Or my first stick shift driving lesson with my uncle in his old truck. Column shifter! My cousin, Dana, came along for the fun of it and was hanging out the passenger window laughing hysterically as we lurched around the empty high school parking lot.

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      Amy June 24, 2016 at 8:33 am - Reply

      Heather I am LAUGHING at the coasting story!!! I love it it :).

  5. Angie Blattner June 28, 2016 at 9:24 am - Reply

    My story of learning to drive was when I was in Missouri with my mom in a rental car. She took me back behind Crowder College, the community college she went to for a period of time and we were on a country road. She assumed I knew that right was gas and left was brake and she assumed I knew it was just one foot at a time. Well, I had BOTH feet on BOTH pedals and this was causing burnt rubber to start to drift into the car. My mom saw what I was doing and screamed and then laughed. We still laugh at that story…

  6. Carla July 5, 2016 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    My oldest is waiting to get her driver’s ed certificate to take the test for the permit. She’s excited, I’m a little freaked out. My learning-to-drive memories are with my dad too. :)

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      Amy July 7, 2016 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      Hope she passes :)! And a new generation of memories can start!

  7. Anthony December 9, 2016 at 4:22 am - Reply


  8. advanced driving course Sydney January 2, 2017 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    Driving schools will really train you and make you aware of the safety and dangers of the road.

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