Compared to teaching a teenager to drive, potty training is easy-peesy (see what I did there?). You’ll have extra laundry, but you won’t die if your kid doesn’t get to the potty in time. You struggle through the bad days of potty-training because you dream of a glamorous post-diaper life. It’s the same with driver-training.
Just like I couldn’t wait to ditch the diapers, I can’t wait to quit my “second job” as mom-taxi, so I enrolled my son in driving school. Admittedly, I was excited to pay someone to teach this particular lifeskill. My elation quickly deflated on the first day when I learned he was required to spend 40 hours practicing behind the wheel with me as his teacher.
I did not agree to this. No way. Are you crazy? Seriously…you do not want me teaching anyone how to drive. Panic set in as I remembered myself learning to drive.
Our Family Lore includes a tale of the first (and last) time Mom let me practice driving with her. I put the car in reverse and carefully released the clutch while ever-so-gently pressing on the accelerator. For no apparent reason whatsoever, the car lurched out of the driveway, squealed across the street, jumped the curb and came to an abrupt halt in the neighbor’s front yard; narrowly missing two trees and the front steps of their house.
I was pretty proud that I missed the trees and managed to stop the car before hitting the house. I looked over at Mom expecting praise. Trembling and pale, she fumbled to release her seatbelt and quickly escape the car that, in her mind, had become a deathtrap. After that, driver-training officially became Dad’s job.
FAST-FORWARD 30 YEARS
Ready or not, I find myself in the passenger seat with my kid behind the wheel. This requires a level of patience that I haven’t tapped into since he was a toddler and insisted on zipping his coat by himself.
FYI: toddlers and teenagers are basically the same. Both are moody. They are tired and hungry…ALL THE TIME. They think they know everything. They both want their independence and don’t like being told what to do or how to do it. The only real difference is their size and smell.
ACTUAL TRANSCRIPT FROM RECENT DRIVING LESSON
ME: Don’t forget your blinker.
TEEN: You don’t have to tell me every time. I know when to use a blinker.
ME: There’s a stop sign.
TEEN: I have eyes, Mom.
ME: You have to get in the left lane.
TEEN: Right here?
OTHER CAR: HONK!
TEEN: Why did he honk at me?
MOM: Because you didn’t use your blinker.
TEEN: You didn’t tell me to use the blinker.
PRAY FOR ME
Breathe in…breathe out. I retreat to one of my happy places (one where I’m not a taxi), and remember all the things he eventually learned how to do: use a spoon… poop on the toilet…zip a coat…tie his shoes…swim…ride a bike…algebra. He’ll figure this out, too. I just pray we survive the training process.
MANKATO AREA DRIVING SCHOOLS
Students are allowed to start the classroom portion of drivers training as soon as they turn 14. Mankato has two driving schools: Safety & Respect Driving School and Superior School of Driving. Click on the links to learn more about each school and upcoming classes.
Have you survived teaching your teen to drive? Are you in the throes of it right now? Please share any advice or words of wisdom in the comments. I could really use some support and encouragement!