View From the Death Seat

As most of you know, I have courage that knows no bounds…I am not scared of nuthin.’  I will speak in front of thousands, climb telephone poles and zip line, start a business, reachIMG_7343 out to a stranger on a dating site (hey, a girls got to eat, right?), and ask for meetings with power partners with ease.   However…

As it turns out, we have found a bound – that which nearly paralyzes me, stops me in my tracks with the voice in my head screaming NO!!!!!!!   I DON”T WANT TO!!!  What could this activity be that stops my heart and sends my blood pressuring soaring at the same time?

Teaching my teenage daughter how to drive.

She sits in the driver seat, me in the death seat.  She grips the steering wheel at 3 and 9 white knuckled.  I sit in the death seat and realize how dangerous this is.  This is not fooling around type of stuff.  I look at this as if I am teaching her to shoot a gun…only this gun is moving and can hit a variety of objects including neighbors and garbage cans – all at the same time.   I clutch rosary beads given to me by my Aunts on my First Holy Communion (and I’m not even religious).  If I am going to die I might as well go down with Jesus in my palm clutching one of my oldest possessions.

I wonder, how can it be that the little girl who read Teletubby books upside down in the family room while babbling about fish and frogs, now has my life in her hands?

And more interestingly, how can it be that this child, who takes 5 honors courses and has already formed opinions about gender equity NOT remember to look both ways when turning a car?  Why does she slow down when turning a corner into oncoming traffic (well it was ‘all clear’ but since you were driving slower than my grandmother we just kissed death – again).  As we make our way to school there is a parade behind since we sometimes forget to put our foot on the gas – well, that is except when we are heading down a hill around a curve in the rain – my gosh I could not have been closer to that guardrail unless I was sitting on it.

It is almost like her brains fall out of her head when she gets behind the wheel.

My biggest question to date when teaching a teen ager to drive is how is it possible that driving permits are not issued with a parent valium prescription or gift certificate to the liquor store?  And how is that parents are not allowed to drink alcohol in the car when their child is learning to drive?  This would considerably cut down on stress and screaming.

A few notes from our journeys (you can also put these in the archive ‘things I thought I would never have to say’).

  • I am on the white line, move the car over.  I am about to hit that tree – move the car over.
  • A stop sign means stop, all motion ceases. It does not mean, ‘wow, that is a pretty color red on that octagonal sign let’s keep going! ”
  • Stop speeding up to red things…tail lights, stop signs, red stop lights. When you see red of any kind – for instance stop light or tail lights of another car, slow down.
  • I scream STOP and SLOW DOWN interchangeably because I am scared for my life. You do not get to throw the traditional millennial BS in my face of “you are confusing me mom.”  Pay the freak attention to the road.
  • Just because you WANT to switch lanes does not mean you just switch lanes. You need to make sure there are no cars where you want to go.  Two cars cannot occupy the same space at the same time.   That is called an accident.
  • When I am screaming it is probably best to just stop the car.
  • Yes, you have to learn how to park. No, there will not always be a bit open empty lot waiting for you.  Yes, the white lines mean something.
  • When driving in the rain do not speed up to red lights (seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?).
  • When you are exiting the car it is best to first put it in park – that way it will not continue to roll as you are trying to get out.  It is also a good idea to bring the car to a full stop before putting it in park…that proces will avoid the car lunging forward.
  • School busses are required to stop before they cross railroad tracks. This means all the cars behind them must stop as well (or crash into the bus).  If you are behind said cars stopping behind the bus, you must stop as well…so stop…no, I mean STOP…STOP THE F’IN CAR RIGHT NOW!!!!

Once you get past the fear (oh who is kidding who, you NEVER get past the fear), teaching your child this major life skills is awesome.  I will tell you that I did like snuggling in with her on the couch and teaching her to read much better than this.  There was FAR less stress and fear involved in that.

One week ago  today (Friday) she had no skill in driving and was shaking in her Doc Martins about the idea.  We started driving one mile home and at that point set a goal of having her drive the full 20 minutes to school by Wednesday (thinking that I would give up at points and take control). Not even 24 hours later she not only wanted to drive but got us safely to her swim meet at school.  Goal achieved early – we were still alive.  All good.

My daughter was scared herself, very nervous about learning to drive.  This was one of those times when I got to share with her my boundless courage and how I walk through paralyzing fear.  When we share with our children that we are also scared, we teach them to walk through that fear, that is a valuable life lesson as well.

Seriously…who is bringing me my French Martini?