Learning to Drive


So it turns out I am getting old.

I realized this once again the other day.  The other day Second Son got his driver’s permit.  That means I now have two children old enough to operate a motor vehicle and that is two more children than I ever thought I was capable of raising that far.  Just to reinforce how old I am getting, Firstborn is breathing heavily down the neck of adulthood and that is more than I can handle.

Teaching a child to drive is a little bit stressful.  Most of my problem is the anticipation of being chauffeured by my own actual child.  This is a problem because I have watched my children play video games.  You know, the kind of video games where you are driving a car?  Watching my kids play these games gives me zero confidence that I will live through one of these driving experiences.  I have watched them drive those game cars straight into a concrete divider, flip them over off a bridge, and get chased by the police every single time.  I do not want to experience any of these things as my child’s passenger.

There is also the part where I think about the fact that we are handing over the keys of a four thousand pound weapon capable of speeds of over 120 mph (according to the speedometer) to a child who is right in the middle of the most extreme time of their life.  These children are learning to deal with raging hormones, extreme peer pressure, growth spurts, their first exposure to real adult stress and very confusing feelings about members of the opposite sex.  Am I the only one who thinks this is a stupid time to also teach them to drive?

I am very sure that I might be adding a little stress to my child’s life as well.  In my state, I am totally expected to teach my child to drive all by myself.  I mean, they have to go to a driving school as well, but as far as I can tell, all they do there is watch movies like Blood Runs Red on the Highway.  Basically they are sitting around watching car themed horror movies for four hours a week.  The actual teaching to drive is mostly left to the parents.

That does not go well for my children.

This is how we teach our children to drive.

The Pastor and I decide to go somewhere and The Pastor says “Hey, we should have the child with the permit drive so they can get their driving hours in.”

I say “OR… we could just drive ourselves because I just drank a large glass of water and these are my nice pants!”

I then lose, which I hate.

The three of us then get in the car.  The child in the drivers seat, The Pastor in the passenger seat, and me in the back seat.  I am usually crying because my baby is getting older and also I am fully aware that I am not unlikely to lose my life in the next twenty minutes.

“Don’t worry,” The Pastor assures the child and I “we’ll go slow and take back roads where there is very little traffic.

This makes me feel a little bit better.  I decide to stop crying and just hold my breath the entire time instead.

We turn onto the road and I am impressed with the amount of darkness there is at night.  Why does The Pastor always insist my children learn to drive at night first, anyway?  The Pastor then starts in on his habit of shouting “DEER!” every mile because not only do we always start our children driving during night, but we always start them driving during rut too.  Rut is a relatively short period of time in the fall where the deer are mating.  Part of this process involves throwing themselves headlong into driving cars, apparently.  If you are an expert at living in the country, which we are, you can learn to spot these suicidal deer before they destroy your paint job because their eyes reflect your headlights.  They reflect your headlights in the exact same way the mile markers on the side of the road do, which is why The Pastor shouts at the driver every mile.

After a few miles, The Pastor says something like “Why don’t you take a right here onto this entrance ramp.”

This is the part where I get to start screaming.

“Wait, what?  Entrance ramp?  You said ‘back roads’!  You said ‘little traffic’!  Why are we merging onto the interstate?!!”

Then, as we are picking up speed on the entrance ramp, I notice something else.  I notice that the interstate is bumper to bumper semis driving 70 mph because that is what they raised the speed limit to.  I was all in favor of this increase until my child had to merge into semis at night on their first time driving.

My screaming now starts to get more and more high pitched involving phrases like “Oh my dear sweet Jesus please save us” and “We’re all going to die”.  I’m sure this is just the motivation my child needs to successfully merge.  This is the point where I also discover what that little handle thing above the door is for.  It is the panic handle for parents of teenagers learning to drive.  I make very thorough use of it.

Somehow my child successfully merges into the convoy.  It is an honest to God miracle and angels start singing.  As we exit the interstate a few miles later, my hyperventilating starts to slow down.  We then pull into the parking lot and the vehicle comes to a stop.

We are alive.

I open the door, fall out of the car onto my knees and start kissing the parking lot.  I am weak and shaking from the adrenaline overdose, but I am alive and very thankful for it.  The Pastor then says something to me about “overreacting” and “being a little dramatic” which is ridiculous because we all know that I am never dramatic.

After we finish whatever we are doing at said place, The Pastor looks as The Child with a knowing look and an eye roll and says “Maybe it would be less stressful if I just drive home.”

I agree because he is right.  Also because I am getting older and seventeen almost heart attacks are enough for one day.


One thought on “Learning to Drive

  1. I can sympathize. For me teaching my daughters to drive was without a doubt the most stressful part of all my years of parenting. They all had their learner permits and did practice driving until near or after high school graduation, before I allowed them to get their drivers license. I was in no hurry to set them loose in a 1 to 2 ton death trap. Even today as they are all grown and living life as they so choose I recognize that driving is they most dangerous thing that they do, except possibly riding in a vehicle with someone else, so now I have to put them in God’s hands.

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