Flash Back To The Past

“Hey, grab your permit because you’re driving us to the store,” I told DJ.

Her response was funny.  A month ago, she would have hemmed and hawed and dragged her feet, then insisted we just drive.  But three weeks ago, she started formal driver’s education classes.  Two weeks ago, she started driving with someone other than Mom and Dad; AND she started driving an automatic versus the manuals we have at our house.  And one week ago, we surprised her with her car – a hybrid, automatic.

Tonight? She was like “OKAY!” as she ran to her room to get her shoes and permit.

What a difference a few weeks have made!

For me, this was a big deal.  I have spent VERY little time in the passenger seat while DJ was behind the wheel.  In fact, I can count the times on two fingers.  The first time, we got about 10 ft before she freaked out over the power of my car versus her dad’s car.  I made her stop the car, wishing I had a break pedal of my own so we could have stopped it earlier.  The second time, she did well……until she killed it about a dozen times, then a woman got behind her and started honking her horn at her.  I finally traded spots with her (causing the woman in the car to freak out which was fun).

We walked to where the car was parked on the street only to find it blocked in pretty good.  “Can you get it out of the parking spot for me?” she asked.  I was happy to oblige because it would have frayed my nerves trying to verbally instruct her on it.  I pulled it out of its spot, then traded places with her.

We drove to the store and found a good spot to park.  Her parking skills are fairly limited given her lack of experience.  Thankfully we found something at the curb that was easy to get into.  She did a great job, except she went into it a bit faster than a normal person.  I kept my mouth shut and was pleasantly surprised at the fact her parking job was perfect.  “I used the reference points they taught me,” she explained.

Oh yeah – it’s definitely “New Driver’s Ed”.

After we left the store, she was driving down a residential street versus the main thoroughfare.  She was so close to the parked cars that it caused me to say,

“You know, there IS more street there – and you CAN drive on it too.”

As I finished saying it, I flashed back to me at sixteen.

My dad was riding with me as I was driving us back from the softball fields.  We were on a residential road, and I was just driving along.  It was a route I had driving 100 times in a car that I had driven 100 times.  No big deal.

Until he said:

“You know, there IS more street there – and you CAN drive on it too.”

The fact I was hugging the parked cars was freaking him out a bit.  Thinking back, he got four blocks before he said that to me.

When I realized that I had been the receiver for that advice too, I just sat there shaking my head at myself.  Then I silently acknowledged that I understood exactly how my dad felt.  He knew I wasn’t close enough to hit a parked car, but just a bit concerned I was pushing it as close as I was.

In that moment, I also realized DJ does the other thing that used to drive my dad crazy when I was her age.  She is going along, and instead of slowing to a stop early, she just stops.  You almost wonder for a moment if she is going to actually stop.  She does.  It isn’t jerky or anything.  She just slows in about half the distance most people slow down.

Yeah, I did that too.

When I had flashbacks to my dad making comments about those two things, I realized that this was my penance for doing it to him all of those years ago.

And like him, I gave praise, gentle guidance, and teasing when things were a bit too close for comfort.  Hey, humor is a popular thing in our family.

I want her confidence to grow, not shrink.  I want her to feel like taking a few more controlled risks, not less.  I want her to feel that she is controlling the car, not that she barely has control of the car.

And so far, these things are happening.

So much so, that we all (her driving instructor included) has to remind her there is a speed limit, and that full stops are mandatory.  Thank goodness we got her the car we did.  Limited power, and lots of safety features.

She can’t get into too much trouble.

At least that’s what I will believe for now…..until I remember what I was like at that age.

Yeah, I’m screwed.

What do you think?

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