Thursday, April 8, 2010

Learning to Drive

I remember how much I loved learning to drive. It is so scary at first and then when you start getting the hang of it, it is just so flipping cool! When I finally got my license at 17 and then my first car at 18 I was a happy, happy girl. My first car was a 69 vw beetle that had been in my family since its birth and I had wanted it for my very own since the age of 4. My sister was a toddler when I was 18, so I was thrilled to have an escape from the house. A boyfriend installed a cool stereo and fashioned me a hand made speaker box for the backseat...remember those bugs just had a hole behind the backseat, nowhere to install speakers. I would cruise the back roads of Shenandoah County blasting The Police and Genesis and Prince and all my mix tapes.

I am reminded of those days as I attempt to teach my darling boy how to drive. He did great in my sister's car which has an automatic transmission, but our first attempt in my car with a manual transmission did not go so smoothly! The worst part is that the accident was ENTIRELY my fault! I feel terrible, and now my sister has hidden her car from us so that we don't do any damage to poor Myles is gonna have to learn on a stick first. But I've gotten ahead of myself as usual.


Once upon a time there was a tall, handsome boy who got his learner's permit and was excited to get behind the wheel of a car. His mother was equally excited to teach him as she remembered so fondly her own driving lessons. Mother and child went to the high school parking lot in the dark of night and practised turning corners and stopping at invisible stop signs and using blinkers and mirrors. Once the Mother screamed out "Watch out for that kid on a bike!" To test the boy's reflexes and braking abilities. He passed that test with flying colors but I think he had the shakes for about 10 minutes, because he thought there really was a kid.

That night we drove from Strasburg to Toms Brook and back and he did a great job. The next time I had him overnight I drove partway home and then had him take over. He drove from where Route 7 crosses the Shenandoah River all the way home. This involved getting onto and off of 81, which is a big deal as it is a busy highway!! The next morning he drove from the house to Hamilton where traffic was really picking up. He was doing fine and could have driven all the way to his dad's house, but I got a phone call and couldn't concentrate on what he was doing and talk on the phone at the same time.

The next time I picked him up I was driving my car. He groused that he was hoping to drive and I explained that his aunt was less than pleased that we were using her car for his lessons and that he was welcome to learn to drive stick. He refused. 20 minutes later he relented and asked for a lesson. I pulled over into a quiet parking lot to give him the basics and get him started. He got behind the wheel and drove to the other end of the parking lot. We switched seats so that I could turn the car around and then he got behind the wheel again and drove to the other end. We switched, I turned, we switched...I FAILED TO STRAIGHTEN OUT THE WHEEL! When he let off the clutch and hit the gas the car made a sharp left, went over the curb, over a small tree, down a 25 foot embankment and into a ditch, mere inches from 65 mile an hour traffic!!!!

It was one of those slow motion things, I was stomping the brake on my side of the car which obviously was doing no good, and I was yelling "brake! brake!" His foot was on the clutch as hard as he could push and was yelling "I am! I am!" Luckily he found the brake at the very last moment, so we eased into the ditch and did hardly any damage to the car at all. We were fine, the car was fine, all was fine. I had to call a tow truck to get pulled out and he had to pull us back up the embankment. When we told him what happened he laughed and said "Don't feel bad son, when I drove a stick for the first time I went right into a brick wall and my Mama was NOT happy!" I think that made Myles feel a LOT better.