So, Karen. How’s the whole teaching your 16-year old son how to drive thing coming along?
Well I’ll tell ya …..
We’re driving, but not as much as I’d like to. Every time I mention going out to drive, Dude makes a sound somewhere between the Argh/Blah/Gah sound. In fact, it’s become a family joke.
“Hey Kevin, want a cookie?”
“Hey Jazz, want a Root Beer?”
“Hey mom. Feel like going for ice cream?”
“Hey Dude. Let’s go driving for a bit.”
Did I mention that I get his patented drop-dead look, too? No? The kid has a LETHAL death stare. Seriously. I have burn marks to prove it.
I have to laugh at this kid because if I don’t laugh? I’ll strangle him. What kind of 16-year boy doesn’t WANT to drive? What sort of 16-year old boy doesn’t WANT to be independent from his over-bearing, sometimes b*tchy mother??
My boy, apparently. *sigh*
I don’t get this kid. Every other boy I have EVER known (well, mostly) couldn’t wait to get his grubby hands on a driver’s license. Or better yet, have his OWN set of wheels to drive around in. (Well, technically, the car isn’t HIS yet, he still needs to pay us for half of it. But you know what I mean).
He’s got cousins that are younger than him driving. He’s got another cousin of his that went on a cross-country trip with one of his buddies. He’s got a friend who is not only driving his THIRD car (long story), he’s ordering body parts from the Internet and rebuilding a heap of junk into a really cool car. This same friend also got a job at Jiffy Lube and is now signed up to do an internship, through school, at a mechanic’s garage because he’s thinking of doing that for a career. (Cha-ching! Do you know how much mechanics get paid?! Smart kid).
I have an odd son.
In fact, I’m sort of THANKFUL that he’s not that into driving right now. After all, that’s one less headache I have to deal with at the moment.
But that’s okay. I’ll take him anyway. Cause I love him – oddities and all. I can’t expect him to be like everyone else. He’ll fall into his own in his own sweet time. I try not to compare him to his peers, but it’s hard not to, I suppose. I guess I can’t really relate to his reluctance to be independent because even though I wasn’t really interested in driving until I was about 17, once I got my car, all hell broke loose. Just ask my parents. 🙂
But the freedom bug? Will bite soon. Very, very soon. I just have a feeling. I shouldn’t rush things. It’ll happen and then I’ll be all, “WHY was I in such a hurry to get him behind the wheel of a car again??”
The kid is doing well. He’s a natural born driver. Heck, he’s a better driver than I am. (And I’m pretty good, thank you very much. In fact, if Danica Patrick wasn’t already driving in the Indy races, I’d totally be THE first woman, or one of the first, to drive in the racing circuit.)
That’s how GOOD I am. *humpf*
But Dude? Well, he just might be a better driver than me.
At least, he’s getting there. Now, I’m not saying we didn’t have our rough patches. For instance, did I tell you about the clueless tourist who shoved us out of our lane because he got confused and suddenly forgot he wasn’t the only driver on the road?
We were coming home from a lunch date with Kevin. The kid drove me and him to Kevin’s work and with Kevin squished into the back seat, he then drove us both to a Chinese restaurant for lunch.
(It was a great lunch, by the way. It was weird not having Jazz with us [he was at band camp], but really nice to have some one-on-one time with just Dude).
He drove like a pro. Kevin later told me that he was a little nervous about his turning, but honestly? I think his turning is coming along nicely. He’s been working on making his turns smooth so he doesn’t give his passengers whiplash from the jerky movements. (Unlike someone else I know *cough Kevin cough*)
He dropped Kevin back off at work and we were on our way home. There is a confusing section of road that branches off into the on ramp for a stretch of highway; it’s confusing to ME, and I’m a local. So, yeah, I can totally see how someone would not know what to do with that bit of road. (Why they made it like that is beyond my comprehension).
We were in the far inside lane because I’ve seen enough drivers get confused at this intersection and make some incredibly stupid decisions that I was hoping we would avoid dealing with anything like that.
Nope. It happened.
The driver of a large 4×4 pickup truck got into the wrong lane. I’m not sure where he thought he was going, but he tried to turn where he wasn’t supposed to and suddenly swerved into our lane. He never looked, he didn’t even slow down.
I took a breath and went into survival mode. (I don’t panic in emergency situations like that – I tend to get really focused and react quickly). I reached over to press Dude’s horn at the guy, to
A. let him know we were there and please don’t run us over, thank you very much.
B. Because I was annoyed at the clueless guy and he deserved a good, hard honk.
But, nothing happened. The horn sputtered and squawked, sort of like an injured whale, and was completely ineffective.
Luckily, Dude had been watching the guy and had anticipated the mistake. He smoothly changed lanes and narrowly missed side-swiping the guy.
Suddenly, I was grateful for all of my “anticipate the drivers’ moves around you and always have a plan B” speeches. We, HE, avoided an accident. I was very proud of him.
But other than that little snafu, Dude really has been doing a good job.
(Kevin replaced his horn over the weekend. Apparently, the thing got some water in it and it just sort of died).
I’ve been pretty relaxed throughout this whole process, if you want the truth. I think I’ve been okay with this driving thing because we bought him a used car to practice in. A car, that if he happened to put a dent into it, I wouldn’t totally lose my cool over. And we did that because I was afraid I’d be too nervous and uptight with him driving my car (which is only a few years old), and totally ruin any chance for him to develop any sort of driving confidence. I can totally understand why some parents would feel uncomfortable and nervous allowing their kids to learn how to drive in their primary car.
It’s nerve wracking, I know. But speaking as a mother of a driving teen? Just take it slow. Start in a parking lot. Then graduate to side streets. Then move to busier streets. Then drive in the rain. Then drive a bit at night. And lastly, take them on the highway.
Whatever you do, don’t take them out on the highway FIRST. You’ll have a heart attack.
Speaking of night driving, we need to do more of that. I think I’ve only taken him out once at night. Perspectives change at night, so it’s important for him to get some practice on that.
Kevin took him out over the weekend to practice parallel parking. But first, he pulled up some Youtube videos on how to parallel park on the kitchen computer and we watched them over lunch.
Hey, don’t laugh, they helped. A lot.
Kevin took him to an empty parking lot. He set up a microphone stand and a music stand to mark the points and then allowed Dude to start practicing. In fact, he taped his first attempt.
As you can see, he NAILED it, the first time. Yes, we’ll work on his spacing later.
I think Kevin is planning on taking him to a quiet street next weekend so they can actually practice between two cars. *gulp*
We don’t talk to Dude while we’re driving. We simply give him instructions on where to turn, etc. The radio is off and I don’t even answer my cell phone when it rings — we don’t want the kid to lose concentration. We’d like him to get comfortable with the mechanics of driving first before introducing any sort of distractions into the equation.
I realize that time is coming. I just hope that when it comes, he’s a good enough driver that his gross motor skills outweigh his sensory perception skills.
Since Dude is under 18, he’s required to have 40 hours of driving and six months from his permit date to try for his license. His six months will be over at the end of September, and though he’s getting close to 40 hours, we’re not quite there yet.
So, he should be ready to try for his license when it’s time, provided he FEELS ready. We’ll see how it goes.
I should totally get paid to be a driving instructor.