I don’t care who you are. You could be Mario Andretti, Henry Ford, and Marty McFly with his DeLorean all rolled into one. But the first time your kiddo sits in the driver’s seat of an actual automobile to drive you somewhere? You die a little inside and you might just poo yourself a little. Well, probably more of the former than the latter, but you get my point.
See, we are on our second go-round of teaching a boy-child how to drive. Well, I say we. What really happens at our house, though, is that Dad does all of initial teaching. He’s the one who takes the child to parking lots and for first spins around the neighborhood. Then, when the appropriate skill levels have been unlocked, he gives Mom the high sign that said child is ready to expand his passenger list. And, at our house, that high sign came last night.
Here’s how it all went down.
The scene: Family of six is gathered around the dining table which is covered with all the leavings and dirty dishes from dinner.
Mom: Well, since it stormed this afternoon, I’m going to have to go to the grocery store tonight. If anybody has anything else they need, tell me now or forever hold your peace.
Josh: I can drive you! Can I take you? I can do it! Dad, I’m good, right? I can drive! Can I drive? Please?
Mom: Uhhhhhh, no. No, I don’t think so.
Dad: Well, sure. Actually, he’s good. He’ll be fine. Let him take you.
Mom: (frantically looking for a way out of what comes next) Uhhhhhhh. (Not able to think of any other response) Fine.
And so it was that I was somehow hornswoggled into not only taking a child to the grocery store with me, but also letting him drive me there! The humanity!!
There are 5 strange things that happen the first time your kid drives you somewhere.
First, your teenager all of a sudden looks very young again. I mean, see that picture up top? That’s what we’re talking here, people. All of a sudden, your 6’1″ teenager looks like that little dude in the Cozy Coupe and you just can’t even with it all!
Then, you become acutely aware that there is no brake pedal at the passenger seat. No joke! Try as you might to use one, there simply isn’t one there. Also worth noting is that clutching the passenger door handle doesn’t work to slow the car down, either.
Next, all of the other cars on the road that, as a driver, you would notice and discard from your consciousness? They become ticking time bombs of unpredictableness that are on the road for the sole purpose of running into your car. You think I’m exaggerating? Well, then you must not have taught a kid to drive because that’s exactly what it feels like!
Furthermore, the vehicle that you and your baby-driver are occupying also becomes a potential weapon of mass destruction. Your minivan is no longer a grocery-getter, my friend. No, it is now a two ton projectile hurtling down the road at 50 mph and God help anyone who gets in your way.
Finally, you get real up close and personal with St. Christopher and your old pals, the Guardian Angels. Oh, sure, I usually end up throwing a Hail Mary or 47 up, too, but that’s just my own go-to prayer of choice. Come, Lord Jesus…Save us, O Lord….Jesus, take the wheel…these all work, too, of course.
And then it’s over. First Drive, complete.
You realize that not only did you make it to the grocery store, but you also made it home again! And in one piece, no less!
Congratulations, mama. You and your child have survived your first drive together. For better or worse, they are driving now and it’s on you to make sure that learn how to do it right. In our house, the rules of the road also include these timeless classics:
First, do no harm.
See and be seen.
Once they get those down, it’s just a lot of practice, practice, practice!
Oh! And it’s also time to spend the next year or so being suuuuuper thankful that you don’t have to add the kid to your insurance until they have their actual driver’s license instead of just their permit. Because that crazy expenditure? Well, that’s another post for another time.