Having a teenage driver, I worry about my baby. . . No, not the sixteen-year-old, I mean my baby, my 2006 Ford F-150 pickup, with the Triton V8, custom air bag suspension, running boards, and spray-on bed-liner.
Back in high school, I remember reading a humorous story by Erma Bombeck on teaching a teenage daughter how to drive. Her hand clutching the door handle for a fast escape if needed. Of course, I thought at the time I would never be like that mother. . .
I was relieved when I slowly opened one eye to see none of the things I envisioned had happened, happened and we proceeded down the blacktop. He had traveled two miles when he stopped the pickup a half a mile away from a stop sign.
“Why did you stop back here?” I asked. “The stop sign is fifty feet away. Pull up, pull up. Give it a little gas.”
He stepped on the accelerator and the pickup flew forward and then he slammed on the brakes. Although I was buckled, I felt my body lunge forward, followed by my neck snapping back as if I was in Coaster Alley at Silverwood Theme Park.
“Sorry, I guess I need practice on stopping and starting.”
“Mmm-hmm,” I attempted to answer, trying to find my voice again.
He turned right, maneuvering the pickup onto the next street, his hands in the perfect three and ten position on the steering wheel, the right side of the truck hugging the fog line.
“Michael, do you realize you are too close to my side of the road?” I asked calmly.
“Yes, my teacher said I needed to work on that.”
I thought about it for a moment thinking, I rather him hug the fog line, then the center line.
“My teacher also said I needed to learn how to change a tire. Can you show me?”
“Sure.” I mockingly picked up my cell phone, punched a few numbers, and then putting the receiver to my mouth, I said, “Triple A.”
We both had a good laugh and both seemed to have relax for a moment. I actually began to think he wasn’t that bad of a driver and this would be a piece of cake.
He slowed down once we hit the residential area, and turned on his turn signal indicating he wanted to turn left into the little convenience store parking lot. Then he immediately turned in front of a maroon minivan! I screamed out his name and he slammed on the brakes and glanced sideways at me. “What, I had my turn signal on?” I looked at him in disbelief. How could he not know about yielding to oncoming traffic? Wasn’t it common sense? Was he absent the day they discussed it in Driver’s Ed? Did he skip that section in the driver’s manual? On the other hand, had I failed as a parent and forgotten an important lesson in driving? Had I forgotten that getting a driver’s permit was only the beginning? The next step is actually teaching the child how to drive.
A few moments later, and when the coast was clear, he pulled into the parking lot. After making a small right angle, the front tires bumping the concrete island, he stopped. Embarrassed, he slowly took the keys out of the ignition and tried to hand them to me. White-knuckled, I gradually pried my fingers bit by bit from the door handle. I shook my head and replied, “No, part of learning how to drive is making mistakes, so after we purchase a gallon of milk, you’re driving me home,” trying not to think I had two more teen drivers right behind him in a few years. Would my pickup or I ever survive?