Last Monday Ling passed her driver’s test, on her first try no less! And as in so many events of this spring, I was half a continent away so missed both the trauma and the celebration.
First the trauma.
Teaching driving can drive (ha ha) a parent to drink or even worse, texting. 16 year olds don’t like being told what to do by their parents, and even less being critiqued every couple of seconds.
I had hoped that the driving school and the husband would do the bulk of the teaching, knowing I didn’t have the temperament for it. But alas, the driving school didn’t call (and didn’t answer calls) for 3 months, and the husband spends much of his day away at work. Leaving the mother with distinctly sub-par nerves and spatial-visual abilities to do most of the tooling around town with said daughter.
There’s so much to write about:
- Driving in the snow for the first time and doing an almost complete pirouette in the street, narrowly missing our neighbor’s daughter’s car
- Driving down a snowy hill just slightly too fast despite my every second warning, “Slow. . . slow. . . SLOW!!!”
- Applying my directions to the wrong skills, so braking a little too late and sliding into the intersection in slow-mo with oncoming vehicle that doesn’t notice us. Apart from shrieking “AAAAAH” and pulling on Ling’s arm as if that would stop the minivan, I did fine (still can’t believe we missed that car—literally by an inch or so).
Then there’s her avid assertion that she only needed to learn how to parallel park by one car, not between two, for the test.
We live in BOSTON—world famous for congestion, traffic and extra-nasty drivers, where squeezing a minivan into a mini-Cooper space regularly challenges all drivers! What a case of teaching to the test.
Then came the actual test. In Massachusetts, the parent sits in the backseat of the car while your child and the tester sit in front. Apparently the minute your child fails, the parent has to drive the car back. Given that said child has a learner’s permit and the right to drive with a licensed adult in the car, this makes no sense. Unless the testers have found that ensuing hysterics put their lives in jeopardy. If you say anything at all to your child during the test, she automatically fails.
Imagine the stress of watching your child drive a several ton death mobile without being able to coach, cajole or even criticize. Luckily, since I was out of town, I didn’t have to either imagine or experience it. Scott did, and says the experience is one of the most harrowing in his life. He says that the next child will be my turn. Maybe I’ll make sure to schedule another trip.
But when she passed with only one minor mistake, Scott was moved to tears. The days since have been even better as she:
- Drove her sister, who insisted her life depended on new running shoes, to the mall.
- Drove her sister, who insisted her grades depended on baking oatmal raisin cookies (because she gave up chocolate for Lent), to the supermarket for raisins
- Drove her sister early to church so she could volunteer for Baby church
- And drove them both back from their girls’ youth group lunch.
Glory, glory hallelujah! Congratulations Ling, and congratulations to us parents. Free at last (to some degree at least) we’re free at last.