Driving Me Crazy


by Beverly Lessard

There are many things you don’t think about before the doctor introduces you to your newborn baby, all pink and wet and ready for his first bath.
You’ve spent the past nine months buying diapers, reading parenting books and setting up the nursery. But most likely there wasn’t one day when you thought, ‘geez, I’m going to have to teach this kid to drive a car someday!’

It isn’t that we don’t want to think about this; it’s that we desperately need to never think about this. Call it denial or survival but teaching your child to drive is best dealt with on the day you check the passenger side of the car to make sure it has an airbag.

I was fortunate in that my husband felt it was his job to teach our three daughters to drive. I too felt it was his job so it was one case where we were in total agreement…so far, so good.

When he took our first daughter out, I ran to our bedroom and climbed under the bed until they were safely out of the driveway. I remember hearing little gasping noises as I tried to suck air into my lungs. My mind was painting pictures of car crashes and neighbors’ lawns void of shrubbery. Trying to be considerate, I phoned everyone I knew to let them know that the streets were no longer safe nor were their driveways, sidewalks or front lawns.

By the time our second daughter was ready for lessons, she got to learn in our little white convertible. It was nothing fancy or foreign but definitely a car that looked better without dents or broken headlights. As she climbed behind the wheel, I heard her say, “Wait, Dad, I need to practice my wave first.”
She held her hand up high, elbow slightly bent and gave her best Queen Elizabeth twist. I headed for the bedroom20and put my head under a pillow.

But as is only fair, since my husband did the teaching, I took each of our daughters for the actual test.
“And remember, Mrs.Lessard,” the instructor warned me as he glanced over his shoulder to the back seat, “One word from you and your daughter automatically fails.”

My daughter gulped so loud I thought she was choking.

It reminded me of the story of a man and his wife who took an airplane ride. The pilot said,” I’ll give you a free ride if you don’t open your mouth the entire time.” The pilot then did loop-d-loops and everything to get the man and woman to scream.
“How did you remain so calm?” the pilot asked as he landed the plane.
“Well,” the man started slowly, “it was pretty hard, especially when my wife fell out.”

So then it eventually happens. Your children have their driver’s licenses and can legally drive without a parent in the car. Yeah, those years are tough. As you struggle through the 3 Ds: drugs, dating and driving, you pray to the Saints of Survival and Sanity that your children survive and you retain your sanity.

So we did what made sense and trusted that we had taught our children well. But it wasn’t our children that we worried about. We worried about the guy coming home at midnight after five drinks at a friend’s house. We worried about the people too busy talking on their cell phones to notice they had just crossed the centerline. And we worried about our children’s friends bouncing around in the backseat and distracting them right into a telephone pole.

We didn’t ask how the backseat got caked with mud, how the windshield got smeared with chocolate or even why there were chicken feathers in the glove compartment. Some questions are better not asked because you really don’t want to know the answers.

Our daughters are grown now. They have their own cars, mostly vans and station wagons, no convertibles. They pay their insurance and they abide by all the traffic laws.
The daughter who was so good at waving keeps her arms inside the car, too tired to wave from buckling in three children. They probably haven’t given much thought to the 3 D years. Those years seem so far away and besides children learn at a very young age that they don’t always need a license. Driving parents crazy is one of those skills all children are born with.

Submitted by Beverly Lessard of Boxboro, MA

Creative Commons License photo credit: Mr.nomind

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