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.
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!