Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I'm Really, Really Glad Life Is Not a Highway

As you may remember, Phoenix has his temporary drivers license.  Bryan does not have the personality to do well in the passenger seat of someone who is learning how to drive.  He's a bit... shall we say... ridiculously short on patience.

If he were to teach Phoenix, the lesson would go something like this:

Phoenix drifts a bit off to the left, getting too close to the yellow line.
Bryan panics and yells, "GET ON YOUR OWN SIDE!"
Phoenix panics, jerks the wheel, loses control, and runs into a tree.

So, as the only calm, cool, and collected person in the house, I have become, by default, the designated apologizer.

I have found that my job is more apologizing to all of the folks Phoenix ticks off than really teaching him how to drive.  I don't know if everyone who sees my mime of "I'm so sorry.  I saw you, but my new teen driver did not.  I tried to tell him, but he was too focused on trying to decide if he should move the turn signal up or down when he turns right." understands, but I try.

To be honest, it has been going better than I expected.  After only an hour or so behind the wheel, he mostly got "stay in your lane" down pat when traveling on a two-lane back road.

After 2 hours, he can almost make a turn without coming to a complete stop or going wildly too fast and making me cry "SlowslowslowslowslowslowSLOWDOWN!"

Honestly, we were doing just fine.

Until last night.

His practice finished at 9:00, and I thought, "There couldn't be a better time than 9:00 on a Sunday night to take his first try on the freeway. And, it's only 8 miles to our exit!"

Well, I now know there is a better time.


Never is a better time.

Ya'll, I have not been that scared since I was 12 years old and (while wandering through the woods) came across my narcotics officer dad talking with what could only have been one of his informants.  But back then, I could run home and sob on my mom's shoulder.

This time, I was the mom, and I was a little too busy trying to keep us alive to sob.

The speed limit is 65 miles per hour on that stretch of freeway.

We went 55...75... 60...70...50...40...65...55...73...50...

At one point, we were following a car going 50.  I suggested he use this opportunity to try his hand at passing a car.  We verbally went through the checklist of how to do it safely:  check all mirrors, flip your turn signal on, check your blindspot by glancing over your shoulder.

Wish I could have predicted he'd look over his right shoulder while moving into the left lane.  I would have been more specific in our little chat.

Did you know that teen driving is kind of like dog years?  One mile per hour for a seasoned driver is equal to 20 miles per hour when a teen is behind the wheel.

It's true.

While on that freeway, we were going up to 1400mph!  No wonder we were nervous!

I know, by the time March rolls around, he'll be much better and more comfortable.  He'll be able to pass a test and get his license and all will be well.

But guess what else happens in March?

Buttercup is eligible to get her temporary permit.

And I'll have to teach her how to drive.

And 15 months later, before Buttercup even gets her license, it will be Star's turn.

And 14 months later, before Star gets his license, I'll be teaching Giant.

I don't know if my nerves can handle the stress I'll be throwing at it over the next 4 years.

I would really like to invest in a vehicle that has a flashing neon sign on top that reads "Student Driver!  I'm Sorry for any Trouble I Am Causing You!"

Oh, and brakes on the passenger side.

Brakes would be helpful.

I've about put a whole in the floorboards already, slamming on my imaginary brakes so often.

Brakes would be really helpful.

So, pray for us, please.

Pray that I can keep my calm demeanor, no matter how scared I get.

Pray that Phoenix (and then Buttercup and the rest) stays calm and doesn't veer off into traffic or a cornfield in a fit of "I don't know what to dooooooo!"

Pray that the drivers around us are calm and sympathetic and alert.  Mostly alert, so they can swerve or brake suddenly when someone accidentally cuts them off.

Pray for my nerves.

I'm pretty sure that while you all age gracefully and normally over the next 4 years, I'll be aging at a faster clip.  My face will probably be frozen in a state of "Yikes!".  My hands will forever be in a white-knuckle grip.  I'll be twitchy, jumping at every sudden or not-so-sudden movement.

It's not going to be pretty.

And if you are driving in the Indianapolis area in the next 4 years, if you see a woman in the passenger side of a car, looking quite distressed while pantomiming, that will be me.  I'm simply trying to say, "I'm sorry".

Or "Help me".

One of the two.

Have a lovely day!


  1. Ha! I managed it this time! lol

    I understand a bit about how you feel. On Sunday I went out for the day with my ex-partner in my van, which he used to drive before we split up. I drove there and he drove back, and aside from the fact that it felt really weird being a passenger in my own vehicle I spent the first fifteen minutes literally on the edge of my seat and the rest of the hour's journey putting my foot on an imaginary brake and almost praying that we would get home safely. He's not a bad driver, he just wasn't used to driving my van after all this time and it showed. And his comment when we arrived home? "Well you're not dead yet are you?!"

    1. Ha! Congrats on the real FRIST! :)

      Sounds like quite an adventure! Good for you, staying quiet despite being so nervous. Vans can be quite daunting. I had to drive one when I was a freshman in college for my job, so I got used to it long ago. I'm not having Phoenix drive my big old van until he has A LOT more experience behind the wheel of a normal-sized car.

  2. Yep, already done this and then watched my granddaughter do the same. Its just grand fun. NOT.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. It really isn't any fun at all, is it? Just have to keep telling myself that millions of kids make it through this without killing anyone.

  3. When we were in Australia several years ago, we discovered when driving on the freeway (on the wrong side of the road!) that they identify vehicles of those learning to drive! Sounds like you'd benefit from such a window sticker as well! Of course, we had no special designation for foreign driver which may have been just as helpful!

    1. I would most certainly benefit from such a thing!
      Driving schools have cars that say "student driver", but really, they should be on all vehicles that teens are driving.
      After seeing how people drive in England and Paris, I don't know if it would matter there. Everyone is a crazy driver!

  4. You made me laugh. But I shouldn't, right? Laugh at your distressed, white knuckled journey as Student Driver Instructor:)
    It's been so long since I was in Phoenix's place I forgot how my Dad felt teaching me to drive a standard! As much as I love to drive them now (past life as race car driver lol), beginning on an automatic turned out to be better and it slowed down the aging process for my Dad!
    Good for you Christine, keeping your wits about you. You did say you still have them, right?!
    Remember - you stay calm, Phoneix stays calm:)

    1. Laugh away. At least there is some good coming from our pain. :)

      Oh, I can't even imagine trying to teach him on a manual shift! I had a terrible time learning how to drive one when I was in college. I don't know if I could even drive one anymore.

      I still do, for now. It may be a whole different story once I get to my third or fourth teen driver.

      I am doing my best!

  5. I can't even make Zilla driving be a thought in my head. In the meantime, I will pray for you and your driving brood...safety and sanity.

    1. Don't even think about it. There is no reason to worry before you have to. Thank you for the prayers. I could really use them.

  6. well, at least it seems that things have not reached the 'better-grab-the-steering-wheel-it's-the-only-chance-of-survival'… but at least you have corn fields for any non-road-restricted travel….how much of a fight would stalks of corn put up?

    (Hey! as a kid your son's age, I used to find it hilarious to turn on everything (radio, heater fan, windshield wipers… especially the wipers) before who ever was driving got to the car… maybe if you did that before Phoenix gets in the driver's seat, the surprise might totally get him relaxed with your appreciation of a classic 'car joke'! Just a thought.)

    1. True. I have not had to reach for the wheel. And corn fields won't do much damage. Thanks for the positives in the situation. :)

      THAT is a great idea!! I am so going to have to do this to him! Of course, you know that when I set it up, something will happen and he won't be the one driving, and I will scare myself to death when I get in the car to go somewhere.

  7. yup apparently, yes.... ok... well... what I was saying was...

    I remember those time with my kiddo but it was worse teaching my mother. My father had tried to teach her when they were first married. She ended up purposely driving his side down into a ditch, climbing out and walking home. Sixty years later, after he died, I taught her is a less confrontational manner and she finally got her licence in her late 70s.

    1. I do appreciate your continuous attempts at commenting despite the losses. :)

      Oh, I can imagine that would be worse. My grandma got her license when she was 55. I remember right after she got it, she would drive us to the Y for lessons. She would scold everyone who broke a rule of the road while going 5 miles per hour under the speed limit. :) Good for her, learning something new and gaining some independence so late in her life!

  8. Oh. My. Goodness!!! I laughed so hard. My oldest got his permit last week. Hold me. I will commiserate with you for quite some time because his sister turns 14 in a couple of months which means the next year she can get her permit. Holy crap! And then it just snowballs after that. I didn't think through this whole, "Let's have a big family AND have them close together" thing. May we age together in a state of Yikes!!!

    1. No joke! Where were all those people to say, "you know, those kids are all going to be in high school and learning to drive and graduating and everything else big and major and gray hair inducing all in a row" when we were having those kids back to back to back to back??

      We shall age together! Any chance of you moving to Indy so other people can see us aging together? :)

  9. OhhhhhhmyGOSH! That sounds hair-raising! I shall cross my fingers and pray hard! Have faith though - by the time Phoenix has been driving a while, can't HE mentor one of the youngsters?

    1. Thank you for the prayers.

      Alas, no, Phoenix can't teach them. The adult in the passenger seat has to be 21 years old. He'll be 21 just after Giant gets his license.

  10. OMG - you are in my prayers - about a year ago my sis bought a Jeep and claimed that its a good investment because in three years her son; my 14 year old nephew who was 13 at the time would be learning how to drive and will get the Jeep ...James was 12 then, after that he asked me about what his aunt said and then asked if that was right; is his cousin going to learn how to drive... and I told him yes all kids learn at 16 or 17 around here he said oh I don't think I'll be ready...so since then I have him start my car you had to see how nervous he was at first now he is so used to it ...and it's a win win on cold mornings I have an automatic start up - I guess what I am trying to say I was rather surprise that James thought he wasn't going to learn how to drive cause he didn't think he could so gradually I am building his confidence he even helps me when I back out of a spot letting me know if cars are coming...baby steps :)

    1. Phoenix has been scared about driving for years, too. We tried to do the baby steps method. We asked him if he wanted to drive the car up the driveway or down to the barn. We thought he would like driving the lawnmower, 'cause everyone likes to learn how to drive the lawnmower. Except Phoenix. He would always choose watching the little kids over mowing. Finally, I just had to insist. Driving is a skill he needs to learn whether he wants to or not.

  11. I am so, so sorry but I am laughing my a** off here!!! I'm allowed. I've been through this. Granted only twice (I was in the passenger seat for J1 as well) but that still counts. Yes. Yes it does. I will be praying for you and everybody else in the Indianapolis area. ;)

  12. You know, I'm really starting to feel bad. You have all of these things going on....monkeys in your ear, sleeping thighs that make you fall on the floor, shattered nerves while teaching teens to drive....and I can't help but laugh! I'm so, so sorry. I've been there with the teen drivers and I'm not looking forward to the next go around. I'll say lots of prayers for you For the next four years.


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