Thursday, June 30, 2011

From the Annamaniacs Files: Driving Me Crazy

I had a request from my daughter - yes the same one in this story - to post this particular column from my heydays as a humor writer in newspapers.  Apparently she thinks that this story of herself somehow impresses people. I am not going to argue.

                Having seven kids means that you eventually learn to handle stress fairly well.  You learn not to pull out your hair when kids draw on the walls. You don’t freak out at the first sign of blood. And watching two-year-olds walk along the backs of couches or four-year-olds climbing trees, doesn’t strike fear into your heart.

            So I’m cool, I’m calm, I’m collected, and I’m in control.

            Or at least I was until my sixteen-year-old got her learners permit.

            To be fair, we’ve been after these teenage girls to get drivers licenses.  Here in Alberta they can get their learners at fourteen. They can get their license at sixteen. I have a seventeen-year-old that still hasn’t made the first step. The sixteen-year-old finally has. I want my daughters independent. I want them to be able to drive themselves places instead of having to ask mom and dad or rely on unreliable friends. Most of all, I don’t want to have to get up at 6:30 in the morning to drive them to their scripture study class.

            So I was happy she finally got her learners. And yes, I would teach her how to drive. I could handle this.

            I can’t handle this.

            “First rule,” I say to my daughter, “do not hold on to the steering wheel like a two year old does. It causes the van to sway all over the road.”

            “I’m not going to do that Mom,” I know how to stay straight.”

            “That would be fine if this was a straight road. But it curves.”

            “So how am I doing?”

            “Don’t look at me when you say that.”

            “Mom, why are you pretending that you have a brake?”

            “Why are you looking at my feet?”

            “Mom, I’ve driven this road plenty of times.”

            “You mean once.”

            “No, three.”

            “Three times is not exactly plenty.”

            “Now wasn’t that a good turn?”

            “Yes dear, it was the best turn in the entire history of the world, except for that car that you hit.

            “Mom, there was no car there.”

            “Well if there had been you would have hit it.”

            “Well if there had been a car there, I wouldn’t have turned so wide.”

            “That’s right, you would drive so much better with more traffic on the road.”

             My husband came home from a driving lesson and declared “I’m never letting her drive again! You teach her.”

            “What happened?” I asked smiling.

            “She shone the high beams right into an oncoming car.”

            “I couldn’t see.” My daughter said.

            “Neither could the other driver.” My husband said.  “He nearly drove into the lake.”

            So it was up to me. Not only that, but it meant that whenever I picked my daughter up from work I had to take the clunky old van instead of the nice new car, so that she could drive home. There was no way she was going to be allowed behind the wheel of the car.

            “Would you relax.” She said one day on the way home from her work.

            “I am relaxed. I’m having a nice relaxing drive sitting in the passenger’s seat. The next time we do this, could you remind me to bring your brother’s bike helmet and the cell phone?”

            “Well, at least you haven’t freaked out yet.”

            “Not even when you shone your high beams into an oncoming car and almost drove into the ditch trying to shut them off.”

            “Yeah, you were pretty cool about that.”

            “I was speechless.”

            “You know, if you want me to learn how to drive, you’re going to have to let me.”

            “That would be logical. My brain understands that. It’s my body that hasn’t grasped the concept.”

            So I am warning everyone out there as I uncurl my body from its fetal position. My daughter is driving. Please be patient. Mistakes will be made. And keep your fingers to yourselves.
Now that I posted it, could my daughter post in the comments section and tell what happened in drivers ed class and at school after this column appeared in the newspaper.


Cindy Beck, author said...

You captured teaching a teenager to drive PERFECTLY! So funny, but also sooooo true. Thanks for a good laugh.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

So true, and I get to do it again in October. So not looking forward to that!