Actually this is my second one. I shudder to think of parents with more than two children. Perhaps those are all the bald ones.
First Lesson: Teacher – confident, Son – excited. The first time I took my son ‘driving’ we didn’t actual GO anywhere. I sat him in the driver seat and he tested all the knobs and buttons, put the seats, mirrors and steering wheel up and down, fiddled with the radio and blinkers and pedals. Then I read him the Riot Act. “I’m the boss. You’re the learner. When I say “stop” you stop. When I say “slow down….” (well, you get the drift.) I also told him that if he got too annoyed with me, his father would be the ‘new’ teacher. 😮
Second Lesson: Teacher – feeling in charge, Son – mildly nervous. I drove to the local Aquatic centre that has a large, flat, multi-lobed carpark. Plenty of figure eights to drive round. Travelling at a flying 4kmph #1 Son said, with mild hysteria, “This is nothing like PlayStation.” After giving my middle ear a thorough workout, circling 17 times around the route, I deemed it enough for one day. I was pretty pleased to have beaten the Immovable Tree Roulette game. Disappointingly, it seems just 42 minutes had passed. Only 7,158 minutes to go. (In Australia Learners need 120 hours of driving, 20 of which have to be night driving, before they can do a driving test).
Subsequent few Lessons: Teacher – clammy and suffering heightening anxiety, Son – maintaining the status quo, for the moment.
- Aquatic Centre car park – Tick
- 3 other local carparks – Tick,
- ….oh God help me….a REAL road…. 400 revolutions of the flat, quiet road around Cromer. It’s at this stage the blood pressure rises and the whites of my eyes begin to bulge. This is where the fun begins, and I invent my Best Ever Learner Driver Mantra: “If your Speed is in control, You are in control.” I said it many, many times, and insisted my Learner repeat it too. Especially when he was going around corners. “Mum!!!” he said, “Not again!!, I KNOW! You don’t have to keep saying it!!” But I did…he was going 17kmph and I didn’t have a brake pedal.
I thought I would have apoplexy. The blood vessels were beginning to pop behind my eyes.
I decide we should drive in the opposite direction, I’m getting vertigo from the same dizzying circuit. This involves reverse. “Oh crap. Oh crap. ….oooohhhhh crap.” (That’s me, not him.)
I’m pretty sure that route has Nissan Dualis wheel ruts. Do you know that you can actually survive a lack of heartbeat for approximately 12 seconds while calculating your speed (37.5kmph) and the exact distance (0.058 millimetres) from the mirrors of the cars parked on the side of the road to your immediate left? You can. I did. “That was a bit close”, I say casually, while creating crescent shaped cuts in my thigh. “No it wasn’t,” he said.
I am not a parent who ‘cheats’ in the Learner Driver Record Book, sadly for my sons. I calculate the hours/minutes driven to the nearest 5 minutes. No, not the nearest half hour, and I don’t add some hours just to round up the page. I will not be blamed if there’s any future incident for not doing my best. My Best involves semi-torture – driving, redriving, repeating mantras, constant commentary and my exclusive tips and tricks. Lucky boys. My Best also involves pop-up quizzes – “What speed was on the sign we just passed?” “How many metres are we supposed to be from the car in front?” and my personal favourite, whilst covering the rear view mirror “What colour is the car behind?” (Use the rear mirror boys!!!)
I think the bulge in my carotid artery comes from the time I gripped at my own throat in horror….we were driving around the local area – narrow streets, lots of cars parked far too close to my son’s moving car, school kids and soccer mums and a general feeling of “Why Me, God?” in the car. As we progress up, toward the peak of a small hill, the car suddenly drifts towards the centre line and begins to hover over it….”Whoooaaaaa, whooooaaa…(insert name of kid here)” as I notice he isn’t looking at the road, and the top of a Government bus appears on the crest of the hill just metres away. A scream never made it’s way past my strangled throat, and the kid finally yanked the wheel back to his own lane. “WHY!!!!!” I yelled.
“Did you see that?” he said, “It was a mini horse!”
“I don’t care if it was the Ayatollah Khomeini, you can’t look away from the road!!!!!!!” I squeaked. “We nearly had a head-on with The 748!!”. We drove home in silence. I was wondering if it hurts to go white haired in the night. He was thinking about the Shetland Pony.
The most annoying thing is that They think They are doing You a favour. They think you want them to learn to drive, and it’s SOOOO good of them to do the driving time. I HATE it when they say “no thanks, I don’t feel like it.” Like I EVER feel like having a stroke. It’s such a trek, that 120 hours. One kid down, one half done. Sherpa Tensing had nothing on me. The real peak is not the summit, it’s a P plate. I feel like I’m at Everest Base Camp waiting to hike to the P. It’s quite similar I think: risk of asphyxia, high anxiety, being cold and clammy – just mine’s in the passenger seat. I think I’ll give the ‘Reverse Parking’ lesson to the Driving Instructor. I’d pay him $3 million dollars to do it. But he doesn’t know that.