I’m teaching my daughter to drive. Again. And no, it’s not a remedial driving course because the first lessons didn’t take. Rather, we’re starting all over with a second daughter—my newly-permitted driver. She just got her permit this week and I’ve allowed her to take the driver’s seat twice, which equates to about two times too many.
This is the child who came home from spending a few weeks with her dad in Colorado over the summer. “I learned to drive!” she proudly declared. “My dad taught me.”
I was thrilled. Elated, even. I remember, after all, what it was like to grip the armrests in my minivan as my older daughter jetted into traffic with me sitting helplessly beside her in the passenger seat during those very first driving lessons. If indeed little sister had learned to drive over the summer, I surely wasn’t going to complain. Don’t get me wrong. I knew she’d need tons more practice driving locally. But I wrongly assumed that when she said she’d learned to drive, it meant that she at least had mastered the basics.
As it turned out, though, that whole “learned to drive” bit was a gross overstatement. It would have been more accurate to say that she drove eight-mile-an-hour circles in an empty parking lot once. This I found out when I allowed her to take the wheel as we drove home from Target. I became a little skeptical when I had to remind her to adjust the seat and mirrors. And then, when I had to give detailed instruction on releasing the parking brake, I became downright doubtful. When finally she inched forward at a snail’s pace and then slammed her foot onto the brake for fear of going too fast, I knew I’d been duped.
“I thought you said your dad taught you to drive,” I hedged.
That, of course, was when the truth about slow parking lot loops came out. Nevertheless, we made it home in one piece, albeit a tad frazzled.
I offered her a second opportunity behind the wheel today. “Sure!” she eagerly replied. And so I pulled into a safe spot, put the car in park and switched seats with her. It was right about then that little brother—who is home sick from school—piped up from the backseat.
“I think I’m going to throw up,” he said, gripping the canister I’d brought just in case.
My daughter, who has very little tolerance for bodily fluids, immediately plugged her ears, closed her eyes and began humming. All whilst behind the wheel, mind you. The minivan was in park, but still. I waited a moment, but she didn’t stop her shenanigans. “You certainly can’t drive like that,” I said, loud enough to be heard in spite of the plugged ears and humming.
“I don’t want to hear him throw up,” she responded. As if I hadn’t figured as much.
“Do you want to drive or not?” I asked.
One would think that the driver’s permit she received just two days before would be burning a hole in her wallet. Apparently not, if it meant potentially listening to vomit sounds coming from two rows behind. We switched seats—again—and made our way home.
At this rate, she may be a licensed driver by the time she turns thirty. Consider it a warning to stay off the sidewalks.