Driving Lessons   4 comments

So, the boy passed his learner’s permit test a few weeks back, and driving lessons have now begun in earnest. We’ve spent time driving in circles around the local community college parking lot on Sunday mornings – I was extremely concerned a little worried when he immediately tried to practice parking in one of the spots that contained one of the two light fixtures (both with enormous cement bases) in the sizable lot and informed him in no uncertain terms calmly suggested he might want to pick any other space in the lot until he had more practice parking – and moved onto driving around town.

After a few days of this we progressed – with the appropriate amount of trepidation on his part – to the two-lane state highway between our town and the one where he has been attending driver’s ed. On our way home after the first class, he got his first experience – did I mention it was the first day of class? – driving on black ice (So. Much. Fun…) and discovered the instructor’s description of what anti-lock brakes feel like when they work was accurate. Which was good to know.

On the way home the next day we tried the Interstate, where he acquitted himself adequately, and I got to use the words a parent probably should never use when teaching their child to drive: “Punch it, Chewy.” (Okay, that was fun).

All in all, I have been a passenger in my vehicle more in these past few weeks than I have, well, since my ex left. And it’s really weird.

This isn’t to say I haven’t been a passenger over the past several years. When we visit my parents, my dad drives when we go places as he finds my car too small. (I think she – and, yes my car is a she – is perfect. He’s just jealous.) I have ridden shotgun in my colleagues’ cars when we have attended conferences and ride as a passenger when I go places with the guy I have been seeing or when friends shuttle me to the garage to pick up my car when it’s in for oil changes. So, it’s not like I don’t have experience not driving.

But it has been a very long time since I have been in a seat in my car that didn’t have a steering wheel in front of it.

And, as I said, it’s really weird.

Not just because I have one or two (or forty or fifty) tiny control issues. And not because my car – unlike the ones he will eventually drive with the instructors when he does his nine hours of road work – doesn’t have a second set of brakes. But for two completely different reasons.

The first is this: My baby is growing up.

Physically, this completely obvious. He is now, and has been for a while, much taller than I am, to the point where I can make him get things off of high shelves for me rather than fight with the step-stool. If he doesn’t shave for a couple of weeks, he starts looking like a baby goat who has been running his chin through a pile of loose dirt. At times, there is an air of maturity about him. It is fleeting, but it does exist, and it gives me glimpses of the man he will become.

And while this occasionally (okay, more than occasionally) makes me swallow hard and say, “Eeep!”, I don’t regret this fact of life. Even when he was a baby, I always said the older he gets the more fun he gets. And I admit, I have been very lucky in the kid I got and in the relationship we have, something he has commented on several times over the past few weeks.

Now, to be clear, I am very definitely his mother, not his friend – our extended conversations about his grades, getting his homework done, and actually participating in housework rather than expecting the house-elf we don’t have to take care of it are a testament to that – but still we are close. As I have ended up being the one to teach him how to shave, deal with the trash and recycling, and now drive, this is a good thing. I can only begin to imagine how difficult teaching him anything would be if our relationship was not a good one.

Which leads to reason number two: I never expected I would be the one teaching him to drive.

I always assumed this would be his father’s task.

I was pretty sure the lessons would still take place in my car as the child has expressed limited interest in learning to drive a stick-shift like is in his dad’s car. (Although, I am pretty sure this will happen at some point…) But I was fairly positive I would only be getting in the passenger seat once he had a bit more of a clue of what he was doing than he currently does.


So, we can add this to the list of things I never expected to be doing and am having to learn how to do as I am doing it.

I know in the future there will be other things I need to show him how to do. While I don’t know at this point what they all are, one in particular that will come up in what I hope will be the long-long-distant future is something we are seeing the beginnings of right now.

A friend of ours, one who is close to both of us, has been diagnosed with cancer, and I know someday (G-d willing not for MANY years) I will have to teach him how to say goodbye to someone he loves. I’m not sure I even know how to do this. It’s not that I haven’t lost people, I have. But he hasn’t. His father’s mother passed away when he was a baby and his paternal grandfather about five years ago, but he was too little when Nana died to really remember her, and he wasn’t that close to Pa, so I’m not sure how much it really impacted him other than seeing his father’s grief.

When the time comes (see above parenthesis), it will impact him greatly as this is someone he has known, loved, and spent time with since he was a small child.

And with any luck we’ll be able to navigate it as well as we have his learning to drive, a few missteps on the gas instead of the brakes, a couple of overly hard stops, and the occasional washing of the passenger side of the car on the snowbank on the street’s edge.

Fingers crossed…


Posted January 4, 2017 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

4 responses to “Driving Lessons

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  1. Aw, this made me tear up, probably because I have my own 16 year old that makes me swallow hard and say Eeep. Remember, like yesterday, when we were cuddling them as babies?

    • Fortunately mine still likes to cuddle. More fortunately he doesn’t expect me to pick him up or try to put him on my lap as he outweighs me by nearly a hundred pounds and is about 7″ taller than I am. I do miss it, though.

  2. and that is what it is like —- I love the “washing the side of the car in the snowbank” comment

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