GasGasGas. You got it, go. Yes now. Signal. More gas. BrakeBrakeBrake. Good, honey, good. Brake sooner. Nice and easy. These are the ramblings of a woman teaching her teenager how to drive. Since getting her learner’s permit a week and a half ago she has driven us to lunch, dinners, the grocery store, the car wash, the mall, a friend’s house, her school. Her chores and homework are done quickly so there’s time to “go for a drive.” We haven’t gotten on the highway yet but she did maneuver through the small lane at the ATM. We’ve only ventured out once after dark but she did pull into the garage. Yes, I was terrified she would hit the gas and we would wind up in the kitchen. Kitchen is still standing. There was only about a millimeter in which to walk in front of the car though. She changes my seat settings to impossibly close to the steering wheel. The music must be off. I can’t grip my legs too tightly or stomp my right foot into the floorboard as I slam on imaginary brakes. I can’t talk too much but if I’m too quiet she thinks I’m stressed and then she gets stressed and then that stresses me out. She remembers the all important seat belt but after parking goes to get out while the car is still in gear. She wants to use both feet. She puts those hands not at 10 and 2 but 9 and 3. Which I guess is better than mine which firmly rest at 6:30 most nights. I’m certain she can recall more rules of the road than me and her father combined but as we all know, the real test is when you hit the road and test them rules. I’ve waxed poetic on here about this child. Not a smarter, more conscientious teen has ever taken the wheel of a car before now. And you can’t tell her a thing. She’s got this. Oh, and she doesn’t want to drive mine or her dad’s car when it’s time for her own, thank you. She wants a white Volkswagen Jetta, model year 2015, please. My Mercedes is too old and Dad’s BMW is okay, I guess. Although seeing the parking lot at Alpharetta High she might be onto something. Her eyes roll as we start to say “Do you know what I had to drive at your age?” This rite of passage resonates strongly with me. I remember vividly learning to drive in a small Texas town, sneaking my mom’s car out to meet my boyfriend (mom, let’s not rehash this – I’m still sorry), driving cross country with a pregnant mother as we moved to Washington, looking over to see her sleeping and hoping to God I didn’t kill us, getting my license with my picture in my absolute favorite Ocean Pacific jacket, picking up my friends for school, taking the other members of the cheer squad to a game. All in a Toyota SR-5 with stripes on the sides. That feeling of pure freedom when you don’t have to ask your folks to take you somewhere. Knowing at least the state you lived in considered you an adult. She gets better every day, more confident. She won’t need my stream of consciousness driving lessons much longer. I do hope my voice stays in her head though, “Don’t speed, Don’t panic, Don’t over correct, and Don’t worry, honey, nice and easy, you’ve got this.”
I’m even tightening up my driving skills. Now, let’s not get crazy, the hands will not rest at 10 and 2 tonight. Maybe 9:45.