There are many times in a parent’s life when she wonders what on earth she was thinking when she agreed to a particular endeavor. I’ve felt that way about lessons, birthday parties, games, toys, and treats. Today’s revisitation of the feeling was the moment when I sat in my van with Kiki at the wheel. She rounded the corner with a little running dialog.
“and now I slow… and turn signal… all is clear… so gas.” Then her voice raised an octave “Not clear! Not clear!” I watched the car coming our direction far down the street as our van drifted diagonally across the road, blocking all lanes.
“Break Kiki!” I said loud and firm while my right foot reached for a break pedal which was not in front of me. She stopped the van, which really had been in no danger of hitting anything more dangerous than a curb. The other driver, a familiar neighbor, had stopped to allow Kiki to sort herself out.
“Okay, now back up, and pull over to the right this time.” I said.
Kiki laughed nervously. “That was scary.”
I suppressed a smile. “No giggling while you’re driving.”
Kiki sorted the car out so that our neighbor could pass. He pulled up beside us and rolled down his window. It took Kiki a moment to find the window controls on the driver’s side, particularly with the level of flustered she was currently sporting.
“No worries.” The man smiled. “I used to be a driving instructor.”
I smiled back knowing that his amusement also encompassed me, sitting in the passenger seat and wishing for a brake pedal. He has two licensed sons with three kids yet to go. His amusement and sympathy ran deep.
We stuck to quiet residential streets and practiced parking in an empty church parking lot. The parking needs quite a bit of work, but all the stopping, reversing, and putting the car into drive became increasingly smooth. Kiki is beginning to train her hands, brain, and feet into the instincts they will need to drive safely. Hopefully the “Brake When In Doubt” instinct will be an early acquisition. We’ll gradually step up to traffic lights and multi-lane roads. Eventually there will be freeways.
Thirty minutes was plenty of time on the road for both of us. She was tired from concentrating and so was I. Steering a car through voice activation of an inexperienced driver is kind of tiring.