DemiGoddess the Elder took driver’s ed class at the high school last fall. At the end of the quarter, she passed the written permit test, and after that I took her to our neighborhood licensing bureau to get her driver's permit card. We filled out forms. She had her picture taken.
So you’d think it would have occurred to me that now I am supposed to take her driving. In MY CAR. And actually LET HER DRIVE MY CAR.
Somehow, though, the reality of the situation didn’t set in until her card arrived in the mail. Turns out, it's much harder to live in denial when one is staring at a photo of one’s child on a lerner’s permit.
I told her, sure, I’ll take you driving. Just as soon as you’ve had your behind the wheel training. It sounded perfectly logical at the time, but was really just a desperate stall tactic as I put forth a monumental effort to hide the fact that I was completely freaking out.
I said, since it’s the holidays and all, maybe wait to schedule your first lesson until January.
Because, you know. January will never come.
Except that here it is, January, and she had her first behind the wheel session yesterday after school. When I asked her how it went, she said it had been fine. She was too scared to go on the busy streets, but she did get up to 30 mph on the side streets, which felt really fast. And she hadn’t hit anything, so that was good. Then she said her instructor would be calling me later that evening. Apparently she’s supposed to have been practicing already, and I have wasted my money by allowing her to take behind the wheel training before she’s had any driving experience.
“Yah,” the guy said when the call came. “She needs a lot more practice. Take her over to the school on a weekend and have her drive around the parking lot, then. She needs to be able to go on those busy streets before I take her out again, doncha know.”
I was being chastised by what sounded like a 150-year-old driving teacher from Lake Wobegon. Sheepishly, I thought, I know. I can do that. We’ll just start slow. It will be fine.
Then he said, “She needs to learn to look right when she’s turning right, and look left when she’s turning left."
Wait, what? She needs to learn that?
When Demi the Elder was a toddler, I bought her one of those Playskool Tyke Bike riding toys. The day I bought it, I eagerly set it on the sidewalk for her, and she toddled over, turned around, and plopped her diapered butt down on the seat. Backwards.
I learned an important parenting lesson that day—Do not to take for granted that some things will be obvious. As in, when you sit on the riding toy, you’re supposed to face the handlebars.
And, similarly, when you're driving the car, you’re supposed to look left when you’re turning left, and right when you’re turning right. Okay then.
But the thing is, a Honda Civic can do considerably more damage than a plastic riding toy. And, my car may be old, but I only have the one.
And, seriously. Where the hell was she looking?