Here you go, my latest column from the Irish Examiner’s Feelgood. Remember the one about the hell that is teaching your child to drive. Well, here’s the one about the driving test.
A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to relive what it was like for men years ago, as they paced outside delivery suites awaiting the birth of their babies.
I was in the driving test centre, waiting to find out if we had a pass or fail.
It was agony.
I’ve had other children sit their test and it didn’t overly stress me. However, this young driver told me times have changed, bemoaning the fact we didn’t live in another county where the pass rate was higher.
The test was applied for when she could barely drive. Finally, almost five months later we got a date. It was to be a Monday at 9.15 am.
So, the panic began. Every spare minute was spent driving around test routes in a part of Cork I’m not overly familiar with.
“Here Mom, I’ve downloaded most of the routes for you.”
“Oh great,” I said squinting at the tiny maps she handed me. “Why do you pass so many hospitals?”
“That isn’t ‘H’ for hospital. It where we stop to do a hill start!”
I laughed heartily at my mistake although yer one was less amused. We set off, as I tried to figure out if the map was the right way up.
“Left at the next junction,” I said, settling back. “LEFT,” I roared as yer one indicated right.
“Are you sure Mum? We never go left?”
“Oh did I say left? I meant right. Carry on.”
I could tell by the set of her jaw she was not impressed. We carried on turning this way and that, but honestly it’s very difficult to look at what a driver is doing, brake with your fake brake every few minutes and follow a map.
“Are you sure this is a test route?” yer one asked.
“Yes, take the next right,” I said, as we passed a large industrial estate and not the park I was expecting.
“No, of course not. Take the next right.” I figured if we kept taking right turns we’d eventually make our way back.
“Are you sure? We seem to be taking a lot of right turns?”
“Maybe this is the right turn testing route?” I said.
And so it continued for weeks. Every time I’d find myself with a moment to spare yer one would appear jangling the car keys.
Finally, it was the day before. Time for the car’s make over. It was hoovered, the air freshener bought, and all checks done. Except, when I say “all checks” I mean everything but the lights. At 9 pm I remembered one had blown the previous week.
Yer one roared, I died a little and yer man insisted we’d get away with it.
Not willing to risk it we found a garage with the right bulb. I unscrewed a number of likely looking fittings, only to screw them back in when the gentleman on YouTube told us they’d nothing to do with lights. Finally one and a half hours later we celebrated, all lights were working beautifully.
The following morning, nerves in tatters I took my place in the waiting room with two other parents. The time ticked by slower than I thought possible. Their daughters returned. No sign of mine. I checked my phone for fear I’d missed the text telling me of the accident that was keeping her. Phew, no message.
Finally, she appeared.
“Passed,” she smiled.
“Wonderful,” I said, weak at the knees. “Hold on to the car keys. I presume you want to drive?”
She looked at me as if I were cracked,
“You must be joking!”