Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Maude VS the new driver

I'm a googler.  I use The Google Oracle to find answers to almost all of my life's problems.  And google, she usually delivers!  But this time, I was kind of at a loss for resources, so I thought once I survive the experience I'd create my own little advice column for the situation in which I found myself today.

I knew that at some point my eldest offspring would be legally ready to drive my car after completing 6 hours of instruction from a licensed professional.  That day was today.

She, of course, was far more nervous about ME being in the car than she was about the actual driving part.  Fair enough, so was I.

Last night, knowing this was coming today, I tried to find articles about how parents can help their young drivers the first time they pilot a giant hunk of metal while sitting completely powerless and with zero control in the passenger seat.

It's unsettling, I'll tell you, to go from being in the driver's seat and solely responsible for your child's health and well being, to suddenly sitting in the passenger seat, clutching a bible, a rosary and a flask. 

OK so I didn't ACTUALLY do those things (however I said many a Hail Mary) but the feeling of HOPELESSNESS that settles in is unlike anything I've experienced since I brought her home from the hospital and hoped I could keep her alive.

Honestly though, I completely underestimated the Xanax worthy anxiety that settled into my chest as soon as she took the keys from my tightly clenched fist. 

Unfortunately as a passenger you have to have your wits about you at all times so any form of medication is not recommended.  Meditation?  yes, hence the constant praying.  God heard from me a lot today....

"Oh my GOD, stay in your lane!"

"For God's sake, watch the speed!"

"Good GOD, did they not show you how to use a turn signal?"

And, my personal favorite:

"Jesus Christ, kid.  EASY on the brakes."

It's good to be a Christian....

All joking aside, she did pretty well for only the fourth day ever of driving in her life.  As much as I coached her about watching the tail lights in front and to HIT THE BREAKS SO YOU DON'T SLAM INTO THOSE CARS UP THERE, she was pretty impressed that I NEVER ONCE grabbed the "oh shit" handle NOR did I slam my foot on the imaginary brake on the floor in front of me. 

I'm not sure how I survived nearly 50 minutes of total terror, but I did give birth to two children and I've gone skydiving and bungee jumping so.....

Really I am not sure who I should be more proud of, her or me?  I'm thinking me.  But it probably should be her?

Back to the original purpose of this story, I tried really hard to find friendly parent advice about driving with your kids for the first time and I came up empty handed. 

So I thought, hell, I'll make a list for the rest of you suckers soon to follow in my footsteps.  You. Are. Welcome.

Without further adieu, here is the list:

1. Stay calm.  Wait, who am I kidding?  PRETEND to be calm.  Inside you can scream like you just stepped on a tarantula, but to your child: APPEAR CALM.  Like icy calm, the calm that you show them when you caught them doing something they shouldn't and you're asking them if they did the thing and waiting patiently for them to admit they did the thing you caught them doing.  That kind of calm.

2.  Always tell them they are doing a good job WHEN they are doing a good job so when you do have to scream (not so calmly) "look out for that f-ing semi!!!!!!!!!" they are ready to hear you.

3. Don't make them back out of a parking spot for the first time with you in the car.  A 2 point turn will become a 10 point turn and you'll be crawling out of your own skin just to get the hell out of the parking lot.  It doesn't feel great.

4. They know everything.  You don't.  So don't be surprised when they are NOT driving that they critique your every decision.  "Mom, you changed lanes too frequently back there.  That's aggressive driving."  And then the inevitable after you snap at them for telling you what a crappy driver you are for the entire ten minute drive to school "You know, you shouldn't drive angry.  Driving emotionally compromised is almost as bad as texting while driving."  You are distracted you know."  That's my favorite.... 

5. Avoid streets with more than one lane in each direction.  Otherwise, you're likely to lose a side mirror, your temper and along with it your sanity.  To a new driver, cars in the lane next to them have an unbelievable and undetectable magnetic pull, so much so that you'll be mouthing an apology to the driver next to you as your car is inching closer to them.  You'll be lucky if they read your lips: I am so sorry, student driver! before you escape sideswiping them altogether.

6. Do NOT under any circumstances allow them to listen to the radio while they are driving your car, even at a low volume.  They WILL forget to leave two hands on the wheel.  The temptation to "dab" when they complete a turn safely or fortnight dance to their favorite song is impossible to resist.  Trust me on this one. 

7. Don't hold your breath.  I mean this literally.  You will find yourself not breathing at frequent intervals.  When you finally escape the car when you get to wherever you are going, you might pass out.  I ended up basically falling into a shrub.  True story.  So breathe.  Long, deep healthy breaths.....

I feel like I'll end with lucky #7.  As this was really just our first drive together I'm assuming I'll have some more nuggets of wisdom to share in the near future.  But if you are like me, and you're looking for a sherpa to guide you through the rocky cliff of a 15 year old driving your car, I hope this is useful information to you. 

Feel free to share it with others and hopefully the next stressed out, nervous parent who is googling "how not to totally freak their brand new driver out the first time on the road" this little article will pop up and provide some peace.

For now, I'm signing off and pouring myself that drink......

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