just a few short weeks my youngest child will get his learnerís permit. He could
have had it six months ago if heíd agreed to take a driverís education course.
I donít know why he didnít want to do that. It didnít make sense. The only thing
I can figure out is that he must have wanted me to teach him as I taught all his
have always done the teaching. Dad would never do it. Dad wouldnít even ride with
the kids after they were licensed by the Great State of Oklahoma to do it legally.
They might have been good enough drivers to satisfy a big, strong, brave state
trooper, but not their dad. In fact the only time he will ever sit in the passenger
seat for anyone, including me, is after his companyís annual summer picnic when
he has enjoyed some beer and some karioke. Once a year. Thatís it. That is the
limit of his endurance.
I donít mind. I have always enjoyed teaching the
kids to drive. I will admit that there have been moments when I did not enjoy
it. Moments when I actually feared for my life. Moments when I had to bite the
inside of my cheek to keep from hollering and moments when I just went ahead and
hollered (" For the love of all that is holy, are you deliberately trying to kill
us both?" Constructive things like that.).
has been a different experience with each of them. Katrina was calm and cool on
the outside, but often very slow to commit to a decision. This became especially
apparent when it was time to leave our quiet neighborhood streets and venture
out onto the busier city streets. She would stop at an intersection and wait,
wait, wait. One car would pass, then two then three. She would carefully and deliberately
gauge the distance and speed of car number four and then SWOOSH out into traffic
and a dizzying two or three miles per hour. If she sensed somehow (not with her
eyes, they were usually glued to the road ahead, or the speedometer Ė slowometer?
Ė or anything but the car careening down upon us) that car number four was gaining
on us rapidly and that disaster was imminent she was very likely to stop. Just
stop there, where she was. To see what would happen, I suppose, being of an interested
and considering nature.
Her sister was a much different student driver.
She was raring to go. Driving opened a whole new world of challenge for her. The
only drawback in her case was that there are so many mirrors available in a vehicle
and she wanted to be able to see herself in each of them at all times. When it
was her turn to venture into city traffic she was not phased in the least. She
had seen how cute she looked driving in the neighborhood and it was long past
time for the rest of our fair city to get to share in the delightful vision. She
slowed at the intersection, checked the state of her lipgloss and hair and then
gunned it. She did not wait for Approaching Car Number One (who was forced to
brake suddenly and swerve into the next lane). She did not, if you ask me, even
know that there were other cars on the road. Only potential admirers.
my older son to drive was much, much different than teaching the girls to drive.
I hate to even share this, but he was a much better driver his very first time
behind the wheel than the girls ever were or are or ever will be. He had good
reflexes, good judgment, an ability to judge speed and distance. Everything. Except
fear. Or any concept of his own mortality. Or mine. He would screech around corners
on two wheels, inserting himself between two speeding multi-ton vehicles with
millimeters to spare, look at me and grin in exhilaration and then look very surprised
and a little hurt and ask, "What? What, Mom? I missed them by, like, a mile."
So now, with my youngest, the end of an era looms. I will no longer be
necessary for transportation purposes for anyone but me (and, once a summer, the
Karioke Kid). I donít anticipate any problems teaching Andy to drive. He is a
deeply calm child. He has good judgement and is mature and thoughtful. After an
entire childhood of video games he must have phenomenal hand/eye coordination.
He is not vain and understands what the mirrors are really there for. He is eager
to drive, to have that freedom and responsibility. He knows that driving is more
than just a fun thing to do, a lark. He understands that there is a bigger reason
for driving than just getting away from Mom and being on his own. He knows that
there are lots and lots and hundreds of thousands of girls in this city and that
some of them, many of them perhaps, will at some point need a ride somewhere.
And he plans to step right up to the plate.
Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"
August 26, 2009 Column
Mothers | Texas
Escapes Online Magazine | Columns |