When I was fifteen, my grandfather took me to the county fairgrounds to let me practice for my driving test. He made a big show of leaning his seat back and pulling his hat down over his eyes. He grumbled, “don’t hit anything,” and then pretend to go to sleep.
As I enter the stage of instructing teen drivers I have renewed respect for the man.
Ain’t no way I could pretend to be asleep. I can barely keep up the pretense that I’m not in the passenger seat wetting my pants.
It’s not until you are at the mercy of a child-driver that you realize just how insane we are to cram our very breakable bodies into metal boxes and hurtle ourselves at each other at high rates of speed.
The hyper-vigilance I now experience as a driving instructor to my children has made me the worst kind of backseat driver. I tell everyone how to drive: my friends, my family, people in other cars (yes I know they can’t hear me but it makes me feel better), even Hubs. As you can imagine, that does not go over well.
Is there such a thing as driving-instructor rehabilitation? A dimly lit room where parents can declare their names and admit that they are backseat drivers? A circle of chairs where parents can share their horror stories without judgment? A quiet, windowless room where you can escape the steady cries of, “stop telling me how to drive,” or my favorite, “the state says I’m a good driver so leave me alone!”
The worst part is knowing I have to do it all again. Two. More. Times. So when you run into me in a few years and I stare back with glassy eyes beneath my one remaining gray hair, twitching every time a car passes, you’ll know I gave it my all. I may end up a shell of my former self, but my kids will be good drivers.