There I am in the paper #45.

Another of my pieces from The Irish Examiner’s Feelgood. This one went down quite well with some ever saying it mildly amused them, especially those who have recently learned to drive or taught a learner. Enjoy.

What is it about other parents that makes them delight in forewarning the parents of younger children of the woes which lie ahead? We’ve barely announced our pregnancy when they warn us we’ll never sleep again. Observing a two-year-old having a meltdown will inspire the comment, ‘Imagine when he’s a teenager?’

Yet are those teenage years as bad as people say? Personally I’ve not found that to be the case, but, there is a part of rearing teenagers which no one warned me about. A part of parenting which quite literally terrified the life out of me…

Teaching my children to drive.

Ten years ago I was clueless to the trauma ahead when we rang around getting photo credit: Sean MacEntee via photopin ccquotes to insure our eldest. We thought perhaps they believed she was driving a Rolls Royce with the money they were quoting. For a time we wondered would it be a disaster if she took the bus for the rest of her life? In the end we agreed to stop eating and handed her two L plates.

I’d agreed with yer man that my car would be the one most suited for use by the aspiring driver. This was not because his was a swanky, brand new car, but because I feared for his mental health if anything were to happen to what I’ve long accepted to be his one true love.

What I didn’t realise was that having chosen my car it meant I was automatically voted the idiot of choice to be the co-driver. The one who provided the many hours of unpaid lessons each week sitting alongside the practising learner.

Let me assure you that nothing in my life to date has terrified me as much as sitting into the passenger seat and handing the car keys to my teenage child. As we drove along real roads with other cars on them, I could not believe that once upon a time I’d thought teaching my child to drive would be a time for us to bond.

Here’s a small sample of the bonding which has taken place over the course of the three learners I’ve accompanied to date,

“I’ve told you a million times, you’re letting the clutch out too quickly.”
“STOP! That’s a stop sign.”
“Out! Move OUT, we are too close to the wall.”
“Be sure and stay on your own side when we turn this corner. STAY ON YOUR OWN SIDE.”
“At this roundabout go as soon as I say go. Okay, go. GO! Too late, don’t go. DON’T GO!”
“Speed up.”
“Slow down.”

As I’ve been driven about, pressing a non existent brake every three seconds, I’ve also noted some members of the public have no idea what an L plate means.

I believe it would be an excellent idea if a very clear set of instructions could be placed on the back of every learners car. They would read…

Please give me a little extra space because just knowing you are behind me is freaking me out.
Beware my car may roll backwards when stopped on a hill.
A green light may not actually mean I move, but I am trying.
If I’m ahead of you at a roundabout, you may be late for your appointment.
If you beep me I assure you, I will conk out at least three times.
If you are a pedestrian crossing the road, good luck.
If you are a cyclist, please do not be freaked out by my driving for miles behind you, followed by another hundred cars traveling behind me.
If we meet in a car park my apologies I need at least two parking spaces.

Or perhaps a small bumper sticker would suffice?

‘Be kind. The real driver is sweating in the passenger seat.’

Photo credit…London Irish Graduate Network
photo credit: Sean MacEntee via photopin cc

21 thoughts on “There I am in the paper #45.

  1. I sat with my younger sister when she was learning. I remember my comment of ‘Slow down a bit.’ was met by ‘DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!’

    She was very lucky I didn’t kill her.

  2. Yes you gave me a good laugh Truc as I too have suffered in the passenger seat. My eldest son was a good driver and ever so keen, he’d have me out in the car at 6am to practice his turns and what have you. My youngest son I tried, truly I did, I even paid for him to have lessons. His summation of a good lesson was his driver instructor not having to slam on the brakes every few metres…needless to say he doesn’t drive and probably never will, so I am his driver….

  3. oh, i remember these days so well. perhaps you should have begun with a ptsd trigger alert ). just to further terrify you, be aware that we have no ‘l’ plates in the states, no one knows who the learners are, other than those is the learner car!

  4. In Utah there cars that have a “learner” notice on them. We also had drivers ed courses through the high school, which i think is a great idea. They only started requiring x number of practice hours with a licenswd driver after I’d been licensed! I imagine lots of terrified co-drivers then! Utah drivers are rather aggressive.

  5. I remember those days, probably the scariest of phases yet…My kids have driven for awhile now, and I feel more comfortable. Even so, that passenger seat is frightening sometimes. And honestly, drivers are getting crazier and crazier. At first I thought it was only me getting older, but even my kids say the same thing…thanks for the smiles, Tric!

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