Who here remembers their first driving lesson? I know I do – I almost plowed into a parked van trying to execute a left turn. Good thing those instructor cars came with two sets of brakes. Then there was confusing the gas pedal with the brakes on a road test with my dad. Certainly an unforgettable experience – especially for my dad!
I got to appreciate his bravery a little bit more just a few weeks ago, when I gave my very first driving lesson. Did I mention that it was to my mom?
That’s right. My mom still hasn’t learned how to drive, and now that my parents may be moving to a much more car-intensive city, I finally managed to talk her into giving it a whirl.
So picture this: a deserted parking lot on a weekend. It’s almost dusk. I get into the passenger seat and it sinks in – I have absolutely no control whatsoever. All I can do is hope and pray that I can talk her through navigating around the mailbox and the street lights. And really, that’s not a comfortable place to be.
But hey, this was all my idea and I at least have to look like I’m totally okay with this (and not having a little mental freak-out).
She gets in the car, which is already running (it’s cheating, but it’s our first lesson, so whatever). I kindly ask her to adjust the mirrors. She refuses because “she doesn’t know how to use them.”
Dear Jesus, if I get home alive and without serious damage to my vehicle, I promise to build several churches in your honor. But hey, gotta stay calm! The last thing I want to do is freak her out by letting on how nervous I am!
So she puts her foot on the brake, puts the car in Drive, and we sloooowly take off. Watching her go, I begin to understand who I get my overcautious nature from – she’s not exactly a giddy 16-year-old who’s, like, totally psyched to finally get behind the wheel.
So we start making figure eights around the parking lot at a snail’s pace. At some point, I actually relax enough to start having evil, envious thoughts – my first driving lesson didn’t go this smoothly! Somehow, the idea that my mom is a better neophyte drive than I was overrides the terror within me. The little voice inside my head that was screaming “she’ll kill us all!” five minutes ago is now saying “you got served! By your mom!”
But I look over and she’s actually kind of enjoying herself. I suggest we try the gas pedal (you can imagine the speed we were going just riding the brakes). She does. We don’t hit a chestnut tree.
Woo hoo! My mom ROCKS, people!
I guess this is that same mixed feeling of terror and pride that parents get when their teen finally starts to drive. It’s sort of overwhelming. Plus I’m getting just a tad nauseated from going in circles over and over. And yet I don’t say anything, because it really is quite an amazing feeling to watch someone take one tiny, miniscule step toward conquering a huge fear.
What the hey, I’m actually very proud of her!
The moment is ruined when some kid shows up to learn to ride his bike on that very same lot. Somehow, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to mix the two forces of destruction. We pull over without incident and I get out and walk over to the driver’s side on jelly legs.
Sitting in the car, I start thinking how something that I find so easy, so automatic – like breathing – can seem so daunting to someone else. Someone who’s even afraid of the mirrors. And about how little it takes to feel a bit more empowered.
Not that I’m itching to have a second driving lesson with mom anytime soon. Not until she learns to adjust the mirrors, anyway.
Do you remember your first driving lesson? Do you have more respect for whoever had to be in the car with you now?