Saturday, June 25, 2011

Learning to Drive

My sister's grandchildren are staying with us for a week. Her grandson is on the high side of 14 and just got his learner's permit. He has taken the classroom training and will have his driver's education training in a few days. She is letting him drive while he is staying with us to get some experience in driving around a big city since he comes from a small community north of here.

I forgot what it is like to be in a car with a new driver. It brings back memories real quick. I have been through this phase with my son and my brother's three sons. What is really nerve wracking though is the breath intake and reaction coming from the passenger seat occupied by the grandmother. She makes me more nervous than the learning grandson.

It's that heaving sucking sound of apprehension that makes a 14 year old question his action and makes me nervous as I sit in the back seat that we are going to be rear ended because of his hesitation due to that heaving sucking sound. What I tell the grandson is that she does that sucking sound of apprehension when she is with me too. In all fairness to her, she was in a roll over car accident because of a drunk driver many years ago with her young daughter and niece as passengers.   It has stayed with her all these years and has affected her response to driving actions. Her reactions have the potential to make me a nervous wreck and I am an experienced driver. Think what it does to a 14 year old grandson.

We were driving down 26th street tonight and the light changed to yellow just as he was entering the intersection. In my mind, as the back seat rider, he had already committed. In his grandmother's mind, the light turned yellow and she kind of hollered out to stop. Well, he was already in the intersection when he started to stop in reaction to her reaction. OMG, my thought was, we are going to be hit. I softly leaned forward and told him to keep moving and I not so softly told her to button down the reactions.

I asked him who was going to be his learning instructor and he said his principal. I said, well, thank goodness, it will probably be easier than being instructed by his grandmother, bless her good intentions.

Some thoughts expressed by this inexperienced grandson driver and some instruction from the grandmother:
  •  Parked cars make me nervous. I am worried I am going to take their side mirrors off.  Well, , don't drive so close to them then.
  • I don't think I should drive since I am full from supper.You are going to drive because you  need the experience.
  • A lesson in the real meaning and importance of a turn signal. Use it, use it, use it!
  • Why you should use your 3 mirrors. You need to always know what is beside you, coming at you or is behind you.
  • Please look before you change lanes and signal please. That means turning your head!
  • How do I know when to go when I get to a stop sign? Who goes first? Consequently a lesson on what "all way" stop means and what it doesn't always mean to other drivers.
  • Stopping behind the white line at an intersection so that van doesn't have swerve out to pass you.
  • Merging onto the interstate means picking up speed, not stopping or moving at the pace of snail. Pick up your speed, pick up your speed or we are going to get hit.
I actually feel sorry for the new driver. It is a bundle of nerves just doing something that is intimidating because of the traffic and not feeling confident. Add to it the nervous outbursts of parents and grandparents and it makes for a unique experience that is not what I call a fun learning event.

It is a right of passage. We have all gone through it and we have survived. We just want our learner to be safe. As my sister said to her grandson, I don't want to have to pass one of those think signs on the side of the road and think of you. He said, what is a think sign?

 I just sighed quietly in the back seat.  I think we need to leave Grandma home.

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