driving lesson

Upon our return from the Letterbox adventure I offered to let Middle practice driving.
Middle, it should be noted, fully intends to attend college in a large city, and sees no point in learning to drive as he "has no where to go" and "will be taking the train" for the next few years.
But K and I believe that he should learn to drive if only to assist in the retrieval of his brother or to pick up some milk when we run out. We also think that learning the mechanics of it all is only half of the process while having experience driving is equally valuable.
Middle has been resisting but his attitude improved last weekend and he agreed to take the wheel.

driving <span class=

With his hands in the suggested 10 and 2 position (which I didn't teach him) he first experimented with the feeling of the gas and brake pedals.
He was unsure of the pressure for each pedal and I realized that he was approaching the whole thing with a much more contemplative mindset than his brother who was a hop-right-in-and-drive kind of guy.

I could see how his mastery of certain video games, in which he has driven, served him
well. He had a decent perception of distances and knew how early to start braking.
I remember not knowing when to begin depressing the brake pedal when I was learning to drive and can now imagine my parents nerves fraying.

I'm sure there are set answers for a lot of the questions he asked before he actually drove but I wasn't especially prepared and guessed a lot. Finally, after much discussion, he hit the gas and practiced driving in a straight line, stopping, turning around, and returning to our starting point.

Middle can drive

It was especially interesting as we were in a parking lot where policemen take their breaks and chat.


They were not fazed by his presence - though it is possible that his learner's permit has expired. (I need to check that.)
We spent quite a while skirting the edges of the parking lot - he did very well, when I realized that he had been making only right turns for nearly 30 minutes.
I had him go the other way around the lot for another 30 or so.

I was so excited for him. I kept asking him if he felt free suddenly, the way I did when I learned to drive. You could drive anywhere! I said with great enthusiasm, but, as Middle is a quiet man, he stayed silent.
Youngest was in the back seat the whole time and so there was some good natured brotherly joking between them.
We practiced with directionals and did some parking and he even had to deal with pedestrians.

This is some lousy parking, isn't it?

bad <span class=

It's not Middle -

bad parking

It was a guy with a baby, who I'm guessing was in a hurry to get to the playground.

Looking slightly pleased with himself, Middle got back in the passenger seat and we decided to bring Youngest home and let Middle see what it was like to drive on a street, in a neighborhood.

We went across the busy road to the blocks of houses near our home.
There, Middle drove over a dozen streets and encountered parked cars (yard sale),
runners, people walking in the middle of the street whilst chatting on their cell phones and The Trifecta: a police car driving towards him as he passed a large parked truck with a man walking his dog in the gutter. He handled it all very well and I was very proud of him.
His cautious nature will be handy as he continues to practice - though he does need to remember to look both ways at intersections.
I suppose it will all come in time.


Laura Jane said…
My son (now 22) reluctantly got his learners permit and was duly dragged to the large parking lot near us.

He did pretty much the same tasks as Middle. I felt he'd done pretty well for his first time, but he did look bored, or a bit detached.

On our next lesson we did a similar thing, but this time I too felt he could drive home the slow way. He did OK really, in terms of speed etc, and I only winced as we passed a parked car and a kerb a little too close on one occasion. I encouraged him to inch further forwards to see as far as possible when we stopped at a crest, which he did skilfully enough.

Once we had passed the intersection he drove on and then pulled unexpectedly into a driveway. 'You drive home' he said. 'Why hon, you're doing so well?' 'Nope' he said. 'This sucks and I'm never doing it again'.

He would not be swayed. And more than two years later he has never got behind the wheel again. He just didn't enjoy it. He is a very physical guy, not a mad car fanatic at all, and is avowedly happier taking public transport everywhere, with the odd lift from us.

I confess to being relieved that he will not be out with our one car at all hours, and that he can drink and NOT be behind the wheel (his friends may be another matter). But I wish he could pick up his sister, or a carton of milk.
Miz S said…
One of the things I learned from teaching 2 kids to drive is that we should all be a little more patient on the road. Which is stating the obvious, I realize. I used to get really pissed at the drivers who tailgated my cautious learners who were obeying the speed limit. Such a concept.
Pretty Things said…
The only driver's ed I got was what the school's gym teachers taught (do they even still teach that in public schools?) so you can imagine my early state of driving.

I took my youngest step-brother to a parking lot to practive driving (when I was all of 18 and OH so knowledgeable) and we both thought we'd broken the car when he stalled it and we couldn't get it to start (it was an automatic and still in Drive -- oy).
Yesterday, Sorority Girl moved into her new off-campus apartment.
She will be parking in front of her building. She said "Thank You Massachusetts for requiring this maneuver on the driving test.

The only reason I got my driver's license is because I was going to be a commuter student in college. Mom said she wouldn't be driving me to school every day.

Middle looked quite relaxed.
Wendy said…
Glenn just got old enough to watch one of his sisters for a short time while I run an errand with the other. The prospect of sending him to fetch one of them for me in a few years - very exciting. (I leave the lessons to his father though.)
unmitigated me said…
Good Lord, woman, are you not thinking of the increase in your insurance rates once he's a licensed driver?! Holy Carp! Our rates doubled when we added the kids to our policy. Aaaaak.
That One said…
This line:

Middle, it should be noted, fully intends to attend college in a large city, and sees no point in learning to drive as he "has no where to go" and "will be taking the train" for the next few years.

is fantastic! I can't imagine a teen NOT wanting to learn to drive. Teens here in Michigan can't WAIT to learn how to drive. Of course, we don't have a fantastic public transportation system. Just some buses that may or may not be going where you need to get.
Badger said…
Yay, Middle! It's good to know HOW to drive in case the driver of the car you're in is incapacitated in some way. Then you can step in and land the plane, as it were. Don't ask me how I know that.

I learned to drive in a parking lot, too. I'm sure that car, if it hasn't been flattened in a junkyard by now, still has fingernail marks in the passenger side dashboard.
Anonymous said…
Lori Anderson and I went to school together and I can attest to just how pathetic our driver's education was. It was awful and I was in no way prepared to get my license at 16. I waited for several months, but eventually my parents insisted.

And Lori was definitely a better driver than I was. Probably still is.
Amy A. said…
Here's to cautious drivers.
Anonymous said…
My favorite part about this post is how you describe Middle's approach to driving and his adept mastery of it. The thoughtful, considerate people go far in this world and I see a bright future for this son. You must have been bursting with pride.
Anonymous said…
You should all see where I learned to drive...and THE CAR...a very old FIAT 850, stick shift, all uphill on a narrow two way street...I was about 9
so Middle, my dear...just go for it
alice c said…
I am so not looking forward to supervising son while he learns. He is not a contemplative kind of guy.

In fact I need a lie down after thinking about it.
Anonymous said…
As well as it went, I'll bet you were really looking forward to that wine.

Make sure he also learns how to drive a stick--the earlier the better. Even if you don't have one, you never know when you might need to drive one.

After that experience you may need something harder than wine. And maybe a chiropracter.

Anonymous said…
I had both my boys take their first turn behind the wheel in the same environment that I did -- driving around in a cemetary. No traffic, lots of turns, no police. #1 has always hated driving, and like your Middle, went to college and med school in a large city. He is, coincidentally, a crappy driver. #2, otoh, is an excellent driver and is the go-to guy when we need to back up with the camping trailer attached.
Caterina said…
I agree with jbhat, everyone should learn to drive a stick.

I first learned to drive an automatic then fell in love & bought a car with a stick. My brother had to teach me IN ONE DAY how to drive it because I headed off on a 7-hour roadtrip the next day. My parents, too nervous about the trip, were grateful my brother did the teaching :)
Ginnie said…
I agree with you about the freedom thing, bb - I've been driving for decades and still haven't gotten over loving the independence of it! And yes, learn to drive a stick. (Cheaper to buy, cheaper to maintain, better gas mileage, better control in snow, and more fun - unless you drive in rush hour traffic. Then it's not so fun.)
Anonymous said…
I was 33 when I got around to learning to drive. Yes, really. I immediately fell in love with it, and felt uber free and exactly 16.

If my lessons were like Paola's, I would have very good muscle definition in my legs by now.

Mary said…
We are great outsourcers of things. Driving lessons are top of the list of things we will outsource.

Neither of us show anywhere near the amount of patience you must possess!
Suse said…
Whew! Did you need the world's biggest gin and tonic after that?

Or are you old hands at it, having done it all with Oldest some years ago?

I can't IMAGINE how I'll be in a few years time.
Jennifer said…
My brother has always said that I should've been a race car driver ;)

I don't think my nerves can handle my kids learning to drive. Luckily I have 9 more years or so for that :)
Elan Morgan said…
I'm not sure about the United States, but Canada recently changed the 10-and-2 rule to 3-and-9. It apparently allows for more steering control.
Chris said…
My oldest is almost 15.5, time for his learners permit. I must say I am concerned. Where we live there is SO much traffic and to get around a car is almost a must. I am more afraid of our ins costs tho...