Driving Miss Crazy

Jesse, my 15 year old, is now driving. He’s pretty good. He knows he’s not when I grab the van door and the armrest at the same time and hold tightly until my knuckles turn white.

This letting go stuff is hard. Really hard.

With Jesse learning how to drive and living in Nashville, where roads are busy most of the time, it feels a little out of control, and it makes me want to hold my breath a little. You either drive on interstates or back roads, and I think some of the back roads are scarier than any highway, especially with someone just learning to drive. It makes me think about all these student drivers on the roads and freak out just a little. And knowing that I have four more kids to go through this driving thing with.

When I was learning to drive, I drove around our little city of Anderson, no big deal (okay, for me looking back it was no big deal, but I’m sure there were times when my dad wanted to hyperventilate, and my mom was never involved in that process, lucky her). Ten minutes pretty much covered where you wanted to go. My dad, in teaching me how to drive, had me drive routinely to the DMV so that I could practice my parallel parking, which, to this day, I never would have passed if he hadn’t figured out that I could line up the middle of our car with a telephone pole across the street. I still don’t parallel park. Mainly because there’s no telephone pole. And for me, parking in general can be a problem. Good thing I like to walk.

My dad never let me drive on the interstate, which was safest for everyone involved. He did, however, let me drive in the Everglades in Florida when we went on vacation down there one summer. I guess he figured the worst that could happen would be for me to hit some kind of wildlife. I didn’t cause any injuries or fatalities, but, I did manage to go the wrong way, which sent us an hour in the wrong direction. Things have not changed much with me. I now have my beloved GPS, so direction doesn’t matter so much.

Jeff and I approach the driving thing a little differently. He doesn’t talk to Jesse at all unless to give some kind of warning, like “brake, brake, Brake, BRAKE.”  And I’m the running commentary, all the while pointing out the mailboxes that he’s getting way too close to as well as the oncoming traffic and telling him not to roll his stop signs (which I consequently did and failed my first driver’s test at the very first stop sign coming out of the DMV) but also telling him to “gun it” because it’s hard to see around some corners (crazy Tennessee back roads), only to tell him to slow down again because I don’t particularly like the combination of steep hills and old vans and speed so much. But I’m also throwing those “When I was learning to drive” stories in there too for comic relief. Jesse tries to listen to the radio while driving with me, which he doesn’t try with Jeff. Jeff says he doesn’t need to be distracted. Which makes me the fun parent.

I kind of like to drive, and it’s been hard for me to give up my driving time for this kid of mine, only to be scared half to death a few times.This doesn’t sound like a good exchange. But this parenting thing, it’s very rarely an equal exchange. I’m going to have another student driver next year and then again the next year after that. I may not ever get to drive or breathe again.

I’m enjoying my family more than ever these days. Some days I really wish I could freeze time, just for the moment. But probably not when Jesse’s behind the wheel. Not yet anyway. Right now, I just have to remember to exhale and not hold onto the door quite so tightly.


2 Responses to “Driving Miss Crazy”

  1. 1 Angela Miller
    March 4, 2012 at 5:55 am

    😊 loved it! Thanks for the heads up!! Ha!ha! I am 2 years behind you😜

  2. 2 CindyWaldrop
    March 6, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Yikes! I failed my driver’s test three times. I cringe thinking about teaching mine to drive when they can’t seem to remember to flush the toilet!

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