A MOM’S LIFE: Others scared of the teacher, not the new teen driver

Allergy season – and tissue-eating dogs – in full swing

I started writing this column when my son started kindergarten.
On Monday, Junior began his sophomore year in high school.
Honestly? I don’t know where the time has gone. All I know is that
I’m a lot more wrinkled now than I was then. And it’s a lot more
expensive to keep all the gray hairs from showing.
I started writing this column when my son started kindergarten. On Monday, Junior began his sophomore year in high school. Honestly? I don’t know where the time has gone. All I know is that I’m a lot more wrinkled now than I was then. And it’s a lot more expensive to keep all the gray hairs from showing.

But through all of those years and through all of the growing up that Junior – and his dad and I – did, there is only one thing that has been truly awful, truly frightening. No, not when Junior was 6 and shaved his head bald – really only Junior was frightened by that. No, I’m talking about something really, really scary.

Junior is learning to drive. As in, Junior has moved from taking the online DMV course to actually being in the dang car.

Now ordinarily, this would only cause mild panic for us and for the people who live near us. But I’ve noticed some odd happenings in the neighborhood. The neighbors’ voices fall into hushed whispers when we pass by. People stare, with a look that is so frightened it even scares me. And why, you may ask, are the neighbors so frightened?

Um, I am teaching Junior to drive.

Look, if this doesn’t scare you, you clearly don’t know me. I flunked my written driving test twice. The first time I was 16 and panicked. The second time I was 32 and thought I didn’t need to study. Yeah. Let’s not go there.

I flunked the driving test twice as well. The first time, I was exiting the DMV, about to start the test when I decided to back up. (Before you ask, no I don’t know what possessed me to suddenly back up, but I’m thinking demons. Really stupid demons.) Anyway, I put my mom’s station wagon in reverse and BAM! I ran right into the DMV building. Not surprisingly, when you hit the actual building, you don’t pass the test. In fact, you don’t even leave the parking lot.

The second time I made it out of the parking lot and I even passed the parallel parking test. Unfortunately, my driving test ended two seconds after that, when I didn’t realize what YIELD meant and I didn’t yield to oncoming traffic. Truthfully, I may – just may – have yelled and flipped a birdy at the guy who nearly hit me. You know, the guy who had the right of way.

So that’s not really something you want to do on your driving test, in case you were wondering.

Look, let’s be honest here. If anyone was teaching my son to drive it should be anybody but me. I once hit my husband’s car. With my car. I rear-ended him. I have driven through gates and garage doors. I am a menace on the road.

And yet, I am the one elected to teach Junior to drive. This is because my husband has very little patience. And by very little patience, I really mean that he has absolutely no patience whatsoever. The one time he took Junior out in the car it was a disaster and they never left the driveway.

In case you were wondering, it’s very difficult to learn to drive if you don’t leave the driveway.

Also? Harry left claw marks in my leather seats. I waited a billion years to afford a car with leather seats. I don’t want claw marks on them.

So it turns out it’s up to me – and a licensed, professional driving instructor – to teach Junior to drive. And I really do wish I were a better driver. I wish had some techniques to pass on to my son to make him the best driver on the planet. But I don’t. What I do have is a ton of patience and one really good thing. I never panic when he screws up. After all, I’ve been there, run over that. So I’m pretty much calm as a cucumber, no matter how close he comes to a parked car. Or the curb.

As a bonus, I might even let him leave the driveway. Someday.

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