Sunday, May 4, 2008

Learning to Drive

I have always felt like kids who go places without their parents on a regular basis should have a couple of things:
1) a cell phone
2) a working knowledge of a car

When I say "without their parents on a regular basis", I mean as they start going to summer camps and school trips where mom and dad just aren't close enough to be of help. When I say a working knowledge of a car, I mean the ability to drive it for short distances, in an emergency, to get to safety or to get themselves or someone else help.

Please judge that however you will. I have no problems with the fact that people do not agree with me. I will still be teaching my kids to drive. That might stem from the fact that I got a crash course in driving when my choices were to either drive myself home from the middle of nowhere (that's how I learned to drive a stick too, coincidentally) or ride passenger with a drunk driver. OK, I believe the first time I drove very slowly home, the owner of the car was stoned, but impaired nonetheless.

So, Last Tuesday, before the kids left on their excellent adventure, I put Rebi behind the wheel and had her practice easing on the gas, easing off the gas, easing on the brake. She did really well, with only a few little jerks and violent stops.

Evan was in the back seat, and got a little cocky, saying he could drive better. So, I got the van all lined up to give him a nice stretch of straight with very few obstacles on either side. He checked his mirrors, released the emergency brake, eased off the brake, and then pretty much stomped on the gas. Apparently I was not clear enough in telling him the gas pedal requires VERY LITTLE pressure. I should have said NO pressure.

Completely freaked out, his utter panic was only made worse by me saying,
"brake brake BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE!"

At this point, Evan accidentally moved the wheel a little and we started hurtling towards a tree. Which made him even more freaked out and he still couldn't get his foot to the brake pedal. I very nearly dropped the engine from the car by slamming it into neutral. And as soon as that happened, he smashed his foot into the brake pedal.

We screeched to a halt, noses to the windshield, not so much worse for wear, but with a healthier respect for mom's driving. I gave myself a few minutes to catch my breath again and put him back in the driver's seat where he was much better about easing on and off the gas and certainly moved his foot to the brake in a more timely manner.

I wonder if I could buy a used Driver's Ed car with the passenger side brake. Because that would make teaching 5 kids to drive a whole lot less nerve wracking.


heather said...

Is it bad that I am laughing at your adventures in driving with teeneagers? I promise it's because I can relate only too well. My oldest is 15....with a permit....and turns 16 next month. Anytime spent in the pssenger seat while he is in the dirvers seat means a lot of 'white knuckling' it for me. But I think you are smart to teach them this, you just never know what can happen. As for cell phones, I am a total believer in them, and it has given me extreme peace of mind in regards to the aforementioned 15 year old son.

Christina said...

Okay, so I think I'll go with a cell phone and cab money. They wouldn't use the cab money for anything but a way home right?

Thanks goodness I'm not having to teach driving yet.

Mom said...

I say go for that used drivers' ed vehicle with the extra brake, especially since you have so many to teach. Nightmare memories are coming back of being in the passenger seat with you and your siblings as you learned to drive.

This also brings back memories of my first driving experience. I was about 13 or 14. My brother was throwing up drunk in the back seat. I ended up in a ditch. Fortunately, my cousin happened along and pulled me out. I did make it home, but was reluctant to get my license until after I was 16, even tho I could have gotten it at 15.