Driving Miss Kirkland

I joined a not so elite group last weekend, I became a parent of a teenager with a driving permit.  I can’t even begin to describe to you the terror that stole into my heart upon this happening, sadly while I realized in concept at some point my children must learn to drive, and then actually drive themselves I had put it into a box marked distant future, you know the one that houses grandchilren, retirement, a life of your own…… But as I read the facebook posts and text messsages from her I knew I was in for it.  

The funny thing was as I told a few of my coworkers in the office about it, they asked me how often I had taken her out? or How good of a driver I thought she was?  And as I gave them the blankest stare we both realzied I might have actually been falling down on the job as a parent.  Now let preface this with a little story/knowlege about my oldest daughter, before we get too far and everyone gets all judgy on me.  Sabrina has a tendency of running her mouth and writing checks her behind can’t cash, while a totally typical teenager she might be, she has taken a special liking to really burning her bridges the last few years and as soon as one of her fathers or I started to think about getting her drivers education or training courses, she would invariably do or say something really hurtful/stupid and we decided we didn’t feel bad about not doing it.  I know that may sound harsh to some and while I’d love to go into detail about the crappyness of teenagers I fear it would lead us all down a dark path and it’s far too close to the weekend for that 🙂

So here were are, just days before her 18th birthday and as the law is written in CA she does not need to take Drivers Education courses to recieve her permit less than six months before her 18th birthday nor does she need drivers training after she turns 18.  Which she plans on doing, and brings us back to my original terror and discussion with my co-workers.  On our walk to coffee that afternoon, my very dear friend told me if she turned out to be a bad driver it would very likely be my fault because shes a girl, I’m a girl and I didn’t do what I was supposed to as a parent to ensure she had good driving practices built before I sent her out on the road.  I really think now that was just a ploy to get me in the car with the teenager but as I can’t find the upside for me or the humor for him since he wasn’t there I don’t know what was going through his mind at that point in time. And since I am one not to back away from a challenge I told her if she showed me some appreication (in the way of helping get the house picked up Saturday morning) I would take her driving after going to the farmstand for our weekly produce (yes we’re those people, I know I know, we live in California)

As I gave her the keys to the truck I started gently asking her question about what she knew and what she thought she needed to work on.  She mentioned having issues backing up as I’m looking at the slight decline into the side of the farmstand she’ll need to negotiate as we leave.  We managed through and headout out onto the two lane road, I realized I might have been a really good tourguide in a previous life, I kept a running commentary in the passengers seat I think mostly to keep my sanity but it may have been helpful to the child as well, it went something like this.

“now you know when you’re drivng along a two lane road that you need to pay attention to the cars behind you, they’re going to want to go faster than the speed limit out here but 35’s fine for us right now, you’re doing great, pay attention to how close you are to this side of the road, you’re going to want to move more toward the center, ok that’s better, don’t forget to check your mirrors and let me know if too many cars come up behind you, I’ll get you through pulling over and letting them pass so you don’t feel pushed, ok now you’re coming up to a Y in the road you’re going to want to stay to the right and you have the right of way so don’t slow down too much”

“Oh wow, Hey, this is the first time I’m going to be driving with other people on the road”

It was at this moment I realized why drivers training is so expensive and also why I might want to consider paying for it.  To her credit we did make it through the expeirence unscathed and aside from a little bit of frayed nerves as she jumped into oncoming traffic when a driver opened her door at the wrong time, or the fact that her turns follow the arc of the sun and cannot be combined with breaking or accelerating………I think she did a pretty good job. 

I’m fairly certain as the weekend approaches she will want to repeat this little escapade again, and I am already looking for excuses as to why one of her fathers needs to do it with her this time.  I guess if all else fails I can take a sudafed and have a small cocktail before we head out again, since I know what I’m in for this time, I think I might need it.

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