Cole has been driving one week today, and I find it ironic that Near-Miss Day falls on the same day as our one-week anniversary of driving together.
Wednesday, March 16th – Cole got his driver’s permit, and we drove together for the first time. Yikes. I was not as calm as I thought I would be–
Thursday, March 17th – I worked hard at staying calm and asking questions. “Honey, do you think you might be going a little fast? Honey, did you see that light turn yellow?” I also practiced giving driving directions like a golf announcer (low, soft, melodic) and not like a football announcer.
Friday, March 18th, AM – I screamed liked a banshee twice. Advice to bikers: Don’t assume everyone else is watching out for you.
Friday, March 18th, PM – I wrote this status update on Facebook: “Cole drove us home from school. I told him once again to slow down … and then I slowed down and realized that between Wednesday and today, he had learned to drive. It was like a pinch. I did not give another direction for the next 11 miles, 40 minutes unless asked, and closed my eyes only twice – one of which when he pulled into the garage.”
Saturday, March 19th – Cole drove on the expressway. As far as I am concerned, this is the best place to teach a kid to drive. Merging on and off is tricky, but once we were on, all I had to do was tell Cole to move into the middle lane and stick to the speed limit. No city buses, no bikers or pedestrians, and everyone is moving in the same direction at roughly the same speed. Cole did tell me that 60 did not feel nearly as fast as he thought it would, once again proving that life is all a matter of perspective.
Sunday, March 20th – Meltdown. Cole drove too fast, zipped in and out too much, and argued with his mother too often. I made him pull over and swore that we might never drive together again. He sulked. I spewed. Cole was thinking, “I wish my dad was here to teach me to drive.” And I was thinking the same thing. We stopped at Red Mango and had a frozen yogurt. We both said, “Sorry,” and made up. Some days are hard.
Monday, March 21st – Cole drove home from school in rush hour with very little direction and cringing from me. Teaching your kid to drive is an amazing exercise in letting go a little bit at a time.
Tuesday, March 22nd – I have found that every time Cole is driving really well, I have the desire to take back some control with a correction or praise. I am learning to replace the correct/praise dialogue with everyday conversation. Cole no longer needs me to praise every turn or correct his speed immediately. He is better now at adjusting his speed on his own.
Wednesday, March 23rd – A mom said to me this morning, “I am just too afraid to let my kid drive. It is just too risky.”
My reality: We are always passengers in our kids’ lives, offering care, love, and direction, but the wheel is always in their hands … or perhaps in fate’s hands. Driving forces us to face that unwelcome reality, head-on. The good news is, for a little bit longer, I get to go along, sit in the front seat, and when the urge hits, yell, “Slow down, damn it!”