Friday, October 5, 2007

As It Turns Out...

S1 is a few weeks away from getting his driver's license. This has caused the typical parental concerns for DH and I as we attempt to teach him to drive. Suffice it to say driving does not come naturally to some.

We have been riding with him as he practices for several months. By now I am fairly prepared when I enter the front passenger seat of the car. The first thing after buckling my seat belt is to assume The Position.

When I was learning to drive, my mother assumed The Position which involved sticking both arms straight out against the dash and shutting her eyes as tightly as humanly possible. Then whenever she felt a subtle turn or stop, she'd let out a scream. Short but loud.

For S1, I have modified The Position somewhat. Basically I scoot to the far edge of my seat away from the side door and window. And there I am posed with one leg slightly raised and crossed over. I wince periodically as we graze trees, mailboxes, bikers, children, and cars lining the side of the road.

I often find myself panting and frantically waving my hand in a sideways flipping manner to indicate the direction S1 needs to move the car. Scrunching my forehead and squinting my eyes doesn't do anything to correct the car placement either. And jumping into the driver's seat for fear of my right arm being sliced off whatever obstacle is presently along the roadside has not been helpful.

So I've gone to silent chantings in order to hopefully help S1 with this struggle, "Feel the road, be one with the road, drive on the road. The gutter is not our friend." And it is gradually working.

The driving skill S1 and I are concentrating on this week is turns. Inevitably S1 will be halfway out in the intersection, still looking left for oncoming traffic before he finally determines that in fact it may be safe to proceed with a right hand turn. And since he is sitting in the middle of the road with no oncoming cars hitting him, it is an accurate assessment of the situation. Even though the conclusion is a long time in coming.

But since at this point S1 has not even begun to turn the wheel he ends up swinging out into oncoming traffic with the turn. Of course, all the while he is risking someone coming up alongside his right-hand side and making the same turn while in the very lane S1 should be himself.

I have remedied this with one simple phrase: "Turning is a process not an event." Gone is the screaming, lunging of my head in the direction I wish the car was going, and, of course, the ill-fated, grabbing of the steering wheel. It has all been supplanted with the simple message, "Turning is a process, son, not an event."

So while S1 enjoys turning 16 and turning the girls' heads, I silently remind myself it will not be over very soon. After all turning is a process, not an event.


  1. You've just given me an idea for a post! Love your style, but you knew that already.

  2. i laughed out loud remembering my mom when she taught me (the eldest) to drive. i believe that the only times i have ever heard my mother swear were when i was behind the wheel and under 17.
    i will remember your wisdom: turning is a process, not an event.

  3. Here's a reason to not want to be younger.

    I hated driving lessons. ESPECIALLY with my mum. Always screaming and putting me off.

    I never really understood cos I wasn't a reckless driver. But when I tried to teach my aunt to drive . . . cor blimey! It turns up the heart rate!

  4. My Father taught me to drive. He said, "Jo, you are a good driver but you drive too fast and you never look before entering an intersection". On my first driving lesson, Dad was teaching me about the clutch. Step down on the clutch and slowly press the gas pedal. I got really confused between the gas pedal and the clutch and abruptly did a 360 degree turn right into the garage door and totalled out the washer and dryer. I did not get behind the wheel for 3 months. OOOOPS!!

  5. Two of my niephews are of or past driving age. We thought we might never leave the house (another excuse for me).

    Sarah, my oldest niephew, is turning nineteen soon and has been delayed in her driver's training until now because of her cancer treatments. My Mom is practicing with her; we don't trust Sarah with her own Mother's damaged spine. I'll have to tell her about "The Position.

    We are actually relieved that Sarah didn't drive at sixteen. We certainly didn't wish CANCER on her, it just happened to be one positive thing that came from it.

    As for William (who is sixteen), Shirleen (my sister, his mom), Shirleen cleverly has told him he can take his driver's training when his grades are consistently good enough. Because this may take years, she feels secure that the world is safe from him for a bit longer.

    Crazy Heathen Aunt Kate,
    Le monde de fromage de Kate

    P.S. Just in case it isn't clear: Niephews = Nieces and Nephews smushed together in one handy word

  6. Oh. Dear. Lord...I didn't remember that we had boys just about the same age. I've only gone so far as giving my Oldest the Driver's Handbook, and said, "Study this."
    Thank you for preparing me for what lies ahead!

  7. learning to drive.....I remember it with despair! My dad taught me, it was the only time we ever argued! Boy did we argue! LOL!


  8. Don't tell anyone, but I was taught how to drive when I was 11 ....

    You didn't hear that from me!

  9. With now two teenage male drivers in my home I feel your pain. I have never prayed more than during driving lessons and every morning as they leave the house. I can honestly tell you my son and I would've died on the freeway the first time I let him drive on it (death by semi) had not angels been looking out for us.

    Best wishes. It's really a miracle that most of them (and their moms) make it through this phase unscathed.

  10. Oh, so funny! Our only family means of transportation is the size of a bus (much as the kids may cringe, it's practical). There is no way I am allowing Matt loose behind that wheel - not if I value his and and our neighbours' lives. Anyway, like I've told him, what good is a licence without a car? The deal is, I'll pay for lessons, if he saves for some wheels..

    Good luck with the test!

  11. Hi Debbie, aka SuperMom,

    I might not be the most regular visitor for the next three or four weeks because I have to hand over my novel on 31 October - but I'm always just one click away if you need me.

    Will always be here for you and other blog friends.

    Keep smiling


  12. In the spirit of what David said, my friend and I used to steal the family cars and drive about at ages fourteen and fifteen (shhhhhh!). I taught myself how to drive a clutch in a snowstorm in a beloved car named "Henry Datsun."

    We stole Henry Datsun from my Parents' church while they were at choir practice (like I said, IN A BAD SNOWSTORM) and drove around for an hour. We went to put the car back and the parking place was GONE. We had to park Henry Datsun about seven spaces down from the original spots.

    My folks did not notice. Tee hee!

    Bad Kate,
    of Le monde de fromage de Kate

  13. David,

    Thank you once again. Good luck perfecting the novel!

  14. Michal,

    S1 is not a terrific driver. You should probably taking driving instruction tips from anyone other than me.

  15. Ak-man,

    And S1 isn;t even learnign on a stick shift like I did. Cna you imagine how that would complicate things?

  16. Joanne,

    Have I ever ridden in a car you were driving? Come to think of it, no! Hmmmm....

  17. Kate,

    Love niephews! Great word, great people.

  18. b.,

    Start worrying now. Nothing I can say or do will prepare you.

  19. Mrs. Nesbitt,

    The only time you argued??? Wow!

  20. C Dub,

    Almost died on the freeway? I almost peed my pants when he was on the freeway Monday night. But almost dying is much worse!

  21. Carol,

    Love how you think! Perfect practicality.

  22. Kate,

    You were such a bad girl! I would have never had the bravery (?) to steal the car.

  23. sigh...
    Fine destroy my reputation for a couple of laughs...
    Like I care =D,

  24. S1,

    You are too funny. Don't you see this enhances your reputation!


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