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.
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!