My oldest child is learning to drive.  This, I have found out, is not quite as bad as it is made out to be on sitcoms.  She didn’t crash her first time out and she’s not a bad driver, but it IS nervewracking.  You cannot relax with a new driver behind the wheel the way you can with a seasoned driver.  You can trust, say, my husband to KNOW how wide the van’s turn radius is,  and to know automatically which way to turn the wheel when going in reverse.  With her?  Iffy at best.

Not to mention the fact that she knows everything already and she was JUST ABOUT TO DO whatever it is that I tell her needs to be done.  “Stay in your lane, you’re drifting,” I might say, only to hear back in a very aggravated voice “I KNOW!  I was about to come back over here but I was planning to hit all of that oncoming traffic first!  Jeez.”  Well, I might be exaggerating, but not by much. 

My husband cannot teach her.  He gets too nervous and he freaks out too easily (and you REALLY need a calm temperment to teach a teenager to drive!), so I have been given the job.  She wants to drive every time we get in the car and sometimes I don’t feel up to being the teacher.  She, of course, does not understand this at all.   One good thing about it is that taking away her driving is really an effective threat.  She does NOT want to lose it and will quickly toe the line if she thinks it’s a possability.  Luckily, she’s a pretty good kid, and an exceptionally NICE teenager (an oxymoron if I ever heard one!) so it’s actually been mostly a pleasure to watch my baby take off.

Usually she’s pretty good, especially on the straight highways.  She can drive those things like nobody’s business.  I only worry when things like traffic and stoplights and parking become an issue.  I’ve only been terrified once when driving with her, and that was the time her cellphone rang on the highway when we were taking her to her friend’s house.  I told her she couldn’t take the call while driving, and I couldn’t answer it because it was in her pocket.  The rign tone of the phone was from her friend whose house we were on the way to, so my daughter decided she HAD to take the call.  It was life or death.  So I told her to pull over safely onto the shoulder and call her friend back.

She went from going 55 on the highway to 55 on the SHOULDER.  We were tearing up the gravel and rocks and pot holes on the shoulder and  I found myself braced against the door and dashboard while SCREAMING at her to slow down!  Slow down!  SLOW DOWN!!  It took me a few minutes to unclench my fists and it briefly brought back memories of the way my own mother used to ride with me when I was a new driver.  They really should just put a brake in the passenger side too for just these instances.

It was an absolutely terrifying experience that really drove home the reason why young drivers cost so much to insure.  I took it for granted that she would know to slow down and then gently come to a stop on the shoulder.   But she didn’t.  She’s still learning.  In life, there are many times when youth trumps experience, so it’s nice (in a scary way) to stumble across a time when experience trumps youth.

…At least for a few years.