This column first ran in a paper in April of 2014
Well, at least she knew what she did wrong.
The other day, our 16-year-old daughter, Emma, pulled up to a four-way stop sign and then proceeded to drive right through it without much of a stop.
“Whoa, I totally didn’t stop at that stop sign,” Emma said as she rolled through the thankfully empty intersection.
“No, no, you didn’t,” I said calmly while on the inside screaming, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? HOW COULD YOU NOT STOP? I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WILL SOON BE DRIVING BY YOURSELF.”
Emma and I are ramping up her driving lessons because she is a few months past her 16th birthday and really needs to take her driver’s test so she won’t have to rely on me or her friends to run her all over town.
The driving lessons came to a halt when the winter weather hit. Either it would be snowy or icy, and thus not ideal driving lesson weather, or Emma would have some sort of school-, work- or dance-related activity that kept her from her driving practice.
Or, and this was more common, I wouldn’t feel like putting myself through the torture of riding in the same car with Emma.
Look, teaching a teenager how to drive is exhausting. Wait a minute. Running a marathon is exhausting. Teaching a teenager how to drive is WAY exhausting.
The first thing that has to happen when I tell Emma we are going for a driving lesson is the prep work.
“OK, first I need to make sure my hair looks good,” Emma says.
Then, 30 minutes later, she comes downstairs and says, “OK, I’m ready.”
We then walk out to the car; Emma gets in the driver’s seat, I get in the passenger’s seat and Emma starts the car.
“The windshield wipers are on,” I tell Emma.
“Oh, sorry,” Emma says and turns the lights off.
“Those are the lights,” I say.
“Oh, sorry,” Emma says.
“Do you have your learner’s permit?” I ask.
Fifteen minutes later, Emma gets back into the car.
“Found it,” she says.
Emma then slowly backs the car out of the driveway, and off we go.
On this trip, Emma decided she wanted to drive to the square and stop in the Mother Road Coffee Shop to get an iced coffee.
I had her pull into a parking spot on the square that was far removed from all the other cars.
“Is this good?” Emma asked.
I told her that depended on whether she planned on walking to the sidewalk or if she wanted to be picked up in another car.
Emma pulled the car a little closer to the curb.
After Emma got her iced coffee, she got back into the car, took a few sips and then handed it to me to hold while she drove.
When Emma turned left onto Garrison Avenue, she asked me a question.
“WHAT?” I yelled.
Emma turned down the radio.
Emma drove to the Country Club Road on the west side of town. Country Club Road is a narrow two-lane road. As Emma drove along the road, I gripped my car seat and thought, “LEFT, LEFT, LEFT, LEFT” in the hope Emma would get my telepathic message and steer to the left so she didn’t run off the road.
Miraculously she did, and then I started thinking, “RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT” over and over.
Later, Emma turned left onto Fairview Avenue, and we headed back into town. As we neared a big yellow sign that says “SLOW,” Emma neglected to slow down. Then, at the last second, she saw the railroad tracks and hit the brakes.
“Wow, they ought to warn you about that,” Emma said.
When we got home, Emma grabbed her phone and started texting people. I went upstairs to take a nap.
I was exhausted.