My oldest will be 16 later this summer. He is not yet ready to learn to drive. I was not ready to drive at his age either. But I thought that was a personal thing. I didn’t expect my kid to be that way too. I wonder if I have influenced his choice in some way.
My parents were divorced when I became old enough to learn to drive. My mother was not a good driver. My father knew a lot about cars. Between them, they decided he should be the one to do the teaching. My father was never a patient man. Teaching was not his strong suit.
I may be starting too late here. Hmm. When I was young and growing up, I lived withmy mother most of the time. My mother was a very poor driver. She has always had a depth perception problem. Seems not to matter how new her glasses are, she still can’t really tell how far away something really is. And, we were broke a lot, so she didn’t often have an up to date prescription anyway. So, we had a lot of accidents.
When I say a lot of accidents, I mean, my mother rear-ended something on a regular basis. At least once a year, sometimes more often than that. A lot of these accidents happened while my sister and I were in the car with her. This was on top of any residual trauma, post stress syndrome or whatever, I may have had left over from the wreck that killed my brother when I was two and a half.
So, with all the times I was jolted around and freaked out in the car, I had no real desire to learn to drive. I guess I was scared. I most likely was scared. I don’t think I knew it at the time though. When I was supposed to learn, I just knew I didn’t want to do so.
My father drove a small Honda with a manual transmission. He learned to drive on a manual, so he thought I should learn that way too. But he was impatient. And loud. He took me out to a small street with little to no traffic and put me behind the wheel. He tried to tell me about shifting and about the balancing of the gas pedal and the clutch. I had not innate talent for that. Every single time I tried, the gears would grind and the car would stall. He grew short of his small supply of patience pretty quickly. He yelled at me when the gears would grind. He cussed when the car stalled. He bitched when we lurched forward instead of rolling ahead.
It didn’t take long to have me in tears. This happened maybe three times total. After the third time, I refused to try again. Between the trauma of numerous car wrecks and my father having a conniption trying to instruct me, I decided not to learn at all. I managed to get away with that for almost two years.
Half way though my 17th year, my mother got sick. Not like dying, just like really really ill. She had a high fever. She couldn’t swallow. Her throat hurt, her body hurt, the over-the-counter stuff we had at home was not helping at all. But she was too sick to drive herself to the doctor. So I had to do it. I was terrified. But my mother really needed help and I was the only one around to help her.
The trip from our home to the doctor’s office was along a very busy street. Two lanes each direction and a median, lots of traffic lights, lots of other cars on the road. I was practically crying by the time we got to the doctor. The best thing about the whole trip was that my mother’s car had an automatic transmission. We never stalled out on the way. I had to take us to the drugstore and then back home afterward. (My mother had strep btw and had to have a shot of penicillin in the doctor’s office)
When she was recovered, my mother said I was able to drive. She said if I could drive on that road and do a good job and not hit anything I was ready for a license. So she took me over to the DMV and made me take the test. I passed the first part easily, the written exam. They told me what to expect in the driving part and sent me to wait my turn out by the curb. One of the things I was going to have to do was parallel park. I had never done that before and didn’t even really know what it was. My mother stood beside the curb and demonstrateda parallel parking method with her body. That was pretty much my whole driving test prep. I managed to pass the test anyway. Actually, I am an expert parallel parker. Who could have guessed?
So, I became a licensed driver in October of 1987. I had turned 17 in April. Now, my son will be 16 in August and has never yet behind the wheel of a car. I do not have accidents. Haven’t been involved in one at all since he was 3 years old. That was a very minor one. So, why is he hesitant to learn to drive? I offer to teach him pretty often. He always says not yet. I have told him that if he prefers Hubby can be the one to do the teaching. He still says no. I wonder if my general dislike of driving has affected him. I wonder if fears can be inherited. I wonder if somehow I am holding him back. But I can’t force him. I have to let him decide in his own time. I guess one day he’ll learn. When he is ready.