It’s been a year & half since the boys began learning to drive. We’ve made a slow go of this process due to everyone’s busy schedules. Each of the 3 boys had their turn behind the wheel and my insurance premiums have flown through the roof! I am happy to report there have been no accidents and each of them have improved substantially. Boys will be boys…and they have had a lot of fun helping and making fun of each other through the process.
While teaching them to drive, I experienced 3 major issues:
- 1 lead-foot driver
- 1 terrible at judging distance
- 1 Granny driver
They each had several learning opportunities to overcome, but had one trait more prevalent as described above. My lead-foot driver had to learn to slow down. He also had to learn that when backing out of the driveway, accelerating so quickly lead to ditch & mailbox type problems. Thank God, during his learning he was safe personally and the car did not receive any new dents or bangs. The neighbors mailbox post was (and still is) as removable as a Lego piece, so it survived also.
Ah, let me tell you about the neighbors… As soon as I decided it was time for the boys to begin learning to drive, I walked across the street and spoke to our long time neighbors. They offered me prayer and said they would understand any accidental mailbox bumps. They were sweet and very understanding. Each time the kids bumped the their mailbox, I made them walk across the street and apologize. To the kids, this was more embarrassing than a nuisance. None of them wanted to eat cake and publicly admit that they had made a boo-boo. So, this rule of our house stood as a deterrent and each tried their hardest to judge distance appropriately to avoid it. This rule also applied to their friends who were driving. If their friends knocked that mailbox over, it was their responsibility to fix the mailbox and apologize – if their friends drove off without taking ownership. Needless to say, that mailbox took the plunge so many times I lost count and most of the incidents were not caused by our boys, but by their friends!! After seeing several of their friends taking out the mailbox, I didn’t feel so bad about our boy’s driving skills at all :-) I did wonder about the ethics of their friends though…because ALL of them sped away (sometimes squealing tires) when they realized they had knocked it down. Teenagers!
Back to the 3 extremes, the lead-foot driver did everything too fast! He had to learn to go the speed limit and had a hard time grasping the concept of slowing down further if weather conditions were not the best. Riding with this driver felt like being on a rollercoaster ride around curves, up & down hills, and coming to an abrupt stop at intersections. My nerves took a toll as well as my tummy with this one behind the wheel. I am happy to report that he did, in fact, pass his driving test and did learn to sloooow down. Yay :-) We were all proud of him… but I still don’t offer him the keys much now. He doesn’t have a job, nor any desire to work. So, I have no desire to allow him to drive independently until he shows financial responsibility & can remember where his wallet is.
The boy challenged with judging distance scared me probably a bit more than the other 2. We only allowed him to practice driving on clear days at low traffic times on back roads. The door handle on the passenger side now has a permanent indention of my grip. That boy scared me pretty bad while he rode the very edge of the pavement. Occasionally I would pee myself and so began to wear the old lady incontinence pads while teaching him. My nerves were unravelling and my stomach was twisted into knots. Occasionally there was a need for me to screech and my son would scold me, “Mom! Stop that. I’m doing fine!” He never seemed nervous behind the wheel & this was hopeful. Still, his wide turns and distance judging was frightening. Some days I would come home with a strained voice after squealing an entire ride with him. Over the last 6 months, his driving ability has improved dramatically though and he is due to take his driving test in a couple weeks to become an official licensing driver. I am proud of his progress AND he has a job! He has been showing financial responsibility through the use of his bank card and managing his money.
The last major driving issue was the Granny driver. This boy literally drove as I’ve labeled – like a Granny. He couldn’t accelerate above 30 MPH, slowed down even more on curves, and would get caught in the same traffic light at least twice. He experienced some distance judging issues during his slow motion turns and he rode the brake frequently when driving straight. His start was abrupt as the car would lurch forward and then he would slow down to turtle speed again. Other cars on the road would fly past us at a whopping 45 MPH. People would honk and make gestures as they sped past us. Bless his heart, he would ask, “Are we going to fast mom?” Then he would break into a sweat as he was cruising down the highway at 30 MPH (in a 55 MPH zone). Each time a car would pass us, he would slow down to 15 or 20 MPH, so you can see we never really even made it to the speed limit at all. He would be so nervous that his poor little hands would shake while holding the wheel. While on back roads, when a car was coming toward him to pass on the other side, he would scoot the car over as far as he could without going into the ditch. Oh Goodness, I felt so bad for him. I’m thrilled to report after much practice, he can now drive without the nervous shakes, feels comfortable at the speed limit, and is much better judging distance. In my mind, he has been upgraded to Teenage driver now and has left Granny in the ditch. I was (and still am) proud of his progress. This one is not driving independently yet due to not showing financial responsibility also. I anxiously await his future employment!!
To sum up this entire process, through much prayer and nervous diarrhea, I have survived this process and everyone is still alive. Oh – and I’ve only changed the brakes once!