How (Not) To Teach a Boy To Drive

***This post has been syndicated at BlogHer.***

When those hospital nurses place that baby in your arms and wheel you out to your car, they give you all kinds of health tips and safety checklists. They warn you about lead paint. They warn you about tummy sleeping. They even tell you to count how often he poops.

What they do not tell you on all those checklists is that you might want to begin preparing yourself right now for the fact that you will someday teach that tiny little creature how to drive a car. And when that moment comes, even though you have a full awareness that your child is maturing and becoming an adult, there is another part of your brain that feels like it's been ten minutes since that hospital checklist, and why, why did I just hand car keys to a six-pound baby who eats every two hours?

(Come to think of it, he still eats every two hours. It's easy to see why I would be confused.)

Anyway, here we are. Driving. With my Adam.  He has a learner's permit, so all his driving hours are with Hubs and me. God bless that poor child, because there could not be two more polar opposite driving teachers on the planet. Let's hope it makes for some well-rounded learning and not to a tendency to tune out my voice for the rest of his life.

Hubs is calm. He ascribes to the philosophy that experience is the best teacher and our boy will rise to (and learn from) whatever driving challenges Hubs put in front of him. He pushes him, gently, with minimal interruption except when it's critical.

I, on the other hand, ascribe to the philosophy that I should share every bit of automotive-related knowledge that has ever been inside my brain, all the time, at every opportunity, pausing only for enough breath that I don't hyperventilate:

It's time to change lanes. Check your blind spot. Did you look over your shoulder? I didn't see you look over your shoulder. People have been KILLED because they didn't look over their shoulder. Okay, good job. Now, do you see those brake lights in front of you? Back off a little. Back off. BACK OFF. That's better. [Phone beeps.] Ah, did you hear that? You just got a text but we are not checking it, NO SIR WE ARE NOT, because just remember that if I ever learn you have texted while driving I will nail your bedroom door shut until you are thirty. Hey, that was a nice turn, but did you see that guy roll through that stop sign next to us? He's an idiot. You must assume everyone around you is an IDIOT, ALL THE TIME, and they are about to make every driving mistake known to man, and if you think this way, then perhaps you will survive.

I'll leave it to you to decide which parent he'd rather drive with. He's too respectful to say it, but it is noticeable that when he is driving with Hubs he is confident and capable. When he is with me he is jittery and tense, and we both end our driving sessions with wild-ish eyes.

(While it is true that I may not have a future career as a professional driving instructor, let the record show that when they handed that pooping, hungry, crying six-pounder to us in the hospital, I had my wits about me and it was Hubs who was in danger of hyperventilating. It takes all sorts.)

Adam is a great kid–cautious and responsible. If were to trust any kid with two tons of accelerating steel, it would be this one. His mother may have gray hair and permanent knee damage from stomping her imaginary brake on the passenger side, but Adam? He's going to be just fine.


12 thoughts on “How (Not) To Teach a Boy To Drive

  1. Christina says:

    I just wanted to say — I missed your writing. 🙂 My two are still babies, but I’m already getting those how-in-the-world-can-you-be-this-big feelings about my 3-year-old… I can’t imagine teaching him how to drive!

  2. Kellyn says:

    Hunter is going to start Drivers Ed soon, I am dreading the teaching of driving…so scared. I almost took out a bank drive through when learning…may leave that to Dad…

  3. Susan G says:

    My oldest will get his learner’s permit this summer. I am definitely more like you- the kids are already tired of my running commentary when I am driving. “Now remember at this intersection, you have lean waaaayyy forward to see if there is a car coming on the right….”
    A friend of mine had her kids play Mario Kart Wii while texting to show them how dangerous it is to text and drive. I am going do this with my boys – I can’t even stay on the road while fully concentrating in that game. 🙂

  4. Stephanie Precourt says:

    Oh gosh I can’t believe this is going to be happening for me sooner than later. I keep thinking about how awesome it will be to have two extra drivers in the house in a few years but I kind of forgot about the teaching them part. I’m more likely to just close my eyes and pray for the best.

  5. Sally says:

    Not new to your blog, but new to leaving a comment! Your story hits home. Already been there, done that and bought the T-shirt with my two sons. Son one, I didn’t mind one bit being in a car with him. Still don’t some 20 year later (yes 20). Son two, when we returned from the DMV with his permit (the office was 7 miles away round trip)I had eaten an entire bag of caramels and when I exited the car made it clear his dad would be the one to see him through this aspect of his teenage life. Fast forward some 15 years later – The first time we meet his current girlfriend at the time, now fiancée, she asked us if we knew he was a horrible driver! A resounding “yes” from me, husband, brother and sister-in-law. Fortunately, he acknowledges this weakness and leaves the driving to others when possible. I think it is a genetic thing on my husband’s side. His brother and sister are horrible too. Can’t explain it; just bad drivers. I don’t get in a car with either of them.

  6. Jill says:

    My oldest just got his license this month. Still not driving too much solo, but he’s calm and cautious. He told me he’d much rather ride with me than my husband. Guess I correct after the error rather than when he’s in the middle of the turn. First time he drove off solo I think my heart stopped. His 8 year old sister thinks this means free trips to ice cream; with him paying!
    Can’t believe how fast these years are going.

  7. Deborah says:

    My mom and I would come back from our driving lessons not speaking to each other. It was very stressful. I am absolutely not ready for that with my kids yet … and fortunately I still have 8 years to go before that day arrives.

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