Mark Terry

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Driving Lesson


April 20, 2008
It being a nice day, and Eldest Son being 14.5 years old, I decided it was time to take him and my vehicle up to the local high school parking lot and get him behind the wheel. I figure I've got about a year to get him acclimated to controlling a 2000-pound lethal weapon before he gets official training and I get to start paying higher insurance rates.

He did fine except... well, there was that one point where we were stopped about 10 feet in front of the curb and I told him to pull right, and he slammed on the gas and we went blasting up onto the curb.

It's not like I wasn't expecting him, at some point, to forget the difference between gas and brake. In fact, that's what I was looking for, and why I kept my hand on the emergency brake. (And told him to stay completely away from the numerous light posts).

I decided, however, that for The Dad this whole thing just isn't a lot of fun. I'm sure I'll do it again, many times, because I remember when I first got behind the wheel how foreign it felt and what a steep learning curve there was to just get used to handling turns and stepping on the gas, let alone looking out for other cars, head-checks and all the various traffic laws.

I also remember my father's teaching me how to drive a stick-shift in the high school parking lot. Now, my father, though he had a fairly pleasant disposition, was a shouter. And he shouted a lot. I'm not a shouter (although, as the VUE crashed up onto the curb and the grass divider I was saying rather excitedly, "Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop!"), but there is some stress involved in this endeavor.

Wish me well.

Cheers,
Mark Terry

11 Comments:

OpenID eric-mayer said...

I taught my first wife to drive a stick shift, in a Kharmin Ghia. Ever see how much headroom those little things had? I practically needed a neck brace I had my head slammed against the roof so many times. Anyway, she managed to learn up to third gear, I guess, because she never shifted beyond third no matter how fast she was going. Even her speeding tickets...sorry officer but I was only in third.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I tried to teach Leanne long ago how to drive a stick shift and still declare it a failure.

2:01 PM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Ugh, I would be TERRIBLE at teaching someone to drive. Maybe if I took some drugs, first. Valium? I'm a terrible back seat driver with someone who's known how to drive for years!

Definitely not one of my better qualities.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Oh Mark . . .
You have my sympathy.

My 18-year-old has been driving for two years now. Teaching her to drive took nerves of steel and white knuckles. I have three more kids to go. By the time Demon Baby is driving, I'll probably get in the car blotto and just pray.

That said, it gets worse, my friend. Because now Oldest Daughter is a FABULOUS driver. But then she has more freedom now. She drives home from work after midnight. When the drunks are on the road. She'll leave for college in August . . . I won't know where she is, what she's doing out on the roads.

I thought sleepless nights were for the breast-feeding and infant years. Now I realize . . . once you're a parent, you just basically don't sleep for two decades.

E

3:13 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Erica,
That's what my friend Andy (otherwise known as the Jewish Mother) said about his 17-year-old. Told me him being out at night driving was more stressful for him than just about anything he'd been through as a parent.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Mark:
The Jewish Mother is right. Take it from the Buddhist Mom.

:-)
E

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

I taught my kids how to drive standard transmission cars in parking lots. With the eldest it was in a university employee lot on Sunday afternoons, with the younger two it was state beach parking lots in winter -- starting at age 14 and continuing right up to when they got their learner's permits. However, when it came time to leave parking lots and low traffic back roads, I turned to professionals at AAA. (The AAA instructor complimented me on how well my youngest could drive, which shows that those many hours over the course of many weekends actually did pay off.)

It is one of those things that is both nerve-wracking and extremely boring at the same time. Around and around, stop, put it in first, slip the clutch, easy on the gas... pretend those painted lines are a parked car, parallel park behind him... okay, pull into that parking space, okay, pretend the parking lot is full and carefully reverse out of that spot. Etc. Etc. Lather, rinse, repeat. Okay, then come back next Sunday for another hour or two. And the Sunday after that in pouring rain on top of old snow. Good, a chance to learn how to handle slippery conditions...

He'll get better at it. (I'd still recommend AAA instruction when he hits 16 and gets his learner's permit.)

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