Want to know what will add about ten years to your life? Teaching a kid to drive.
And since I’ve done that three times, I’d say I’ve nearly got one foot in the grave by now.
Julia has her permit, and even though she’s 16 she doesn’t quite have enough behind-the-wheel hours to get her license. We’re working on it, so last Saturday as we went out to breakfast and ran some errands, Julia drove while B and I sat helpless and added gray hair to our heads.
(Just kidding—it wasn’t that bad. Julia’s actually a pretty good driver.)
The problem is all the OTHER drivers out there.
Even though I’m teaching my daughter to drive, I’m still a student, too. Here’s what I’ve been learning lately: when I’m driving, I’m not the only one on the road.
I know! Revolutionary, huh?
But, see, sometimes when I drive, I can tend to think that it’s all about me getting to where I need to be and getting there as quickly as possible. Everyone else, get out of my way!
What I don’t think about are the kids like Julia who are just learning how to drive and who might be a little unsure of themselves.
Or the little old lady who I saw just this afternoon turn the wrong way down a one way street right in front of me as I was out walking the dog. I waved her off before she got too far.
Or the pregnant mom driving herself home from a doctor’s appointment who might be distracted about the news she just received about her baby.
Or the man who just left work because his wife called and the news isn’t good.
See, when I’m out there driving on the road, so are all kinds of other people—some good drivers, some not so good, and some who simply have other things on their minds.
And then there are the drivers who think they own the road and that everyone should drive just like they drive and if you don’t accelerate as fast as they’d like you to they feel like they have a right to zoom around you and give you a heart attack.
Like the guy did last Saturday when my pre-licensed driver accelerated out of a stop just a little too slowly for his liking. He was behind her in his big, black, luxury sedan that, I’m sure, scoots from 0-60 in just under 3.2 seconds. I was watching from the rear view mirror—he was on our tail, willing Julia to speed up. And when she didn’t speed up fast enough, he zipped around us on the right, just as two lanes were merging and Julia, being in the left lane, was veering slightly to the right, almost smack dab into the side of his shiny, black car.
Let’s just say it was a near miss.
But it was a near miss that I’m sure my little girl won’t forget. She ended up shaking and crying but trying to pull herself together because she was, after all, driving.
And Mr. Hotshot? He zoomed ahead of her, only to have to stop a block away at a four way stop. We practically pulled up right behind him.
So where did that move get him? Pretty much nowhere.
And where did his stunt leave us? Rattled. Scared. And calling him names I don’t like to use except in select situations, this being one of them.
But back to my lesson. I learned on Saturday that when I get behind the wheel I need to just take a deep breath, slow down, and realize that there are new drivers—and old ones, too—who need a break from us.
Would you join me in remembering this lesson? Next time somebody doesn’t drive quite up to your standards, will you also take a deep breath, exercise some patience, and remember that there are all kinds of scenarios out on the road with you?
My daughter thanks you.
*Disclaimer: that photo was taken in a parking lot. It is NOT my car. (My car isn't that dirty . . . today.)