June 15, 2011

Driving Miss Daisy

I think the hardest part of having a teenager, other than the sullenness and the fact that words must surely cost them serious cash because they use as few as possible, is teaching them to drive.

I absolutely do not have the stomach or heart for it. If I live through this teaching to drive phase, I've accomplished no small feat.

And it's not that my eldest is BAD at it... he's just NOT good at it. Yet. There is so much that comes with driving, so much intuition, so much learned from bad experiences. And he's got none of that so it's a clean slate.

If anyone can figure out why he hugs the right side of the road, I'd appreciate it, because he does. He rides that right side like he's pulled to it magnetically. And of course he blames my crappy asexual mom-mobile as the problem. And of course my husband never noticed. So I quit saying anything. If he wants to ride in the gutter, go for it.

Until this weekend.

I had business north of here and I rode up with a girlfriend while my family drove up on Saturday to join me for Saturday night and Sunday. My son said, "Can I drive home?"

I figured, "Let my husband deal with this..." and I took the backseat to be chauffeured and decided to try to sleep the whole way so as to not have to think of what laid ahead for us all.

He's been driving for nearly a year. He took Driver's Ed and has just a couple more hours left. In my mind, the 50 hours he's banked isn't enough to get the license. He needs more. Yet I know for a fact I had less than that when I got my license.

I closed my eyes while my husband directed my son onto different highways and then onto the Turnpike. Overall I think he did GREAT. (I'm alive, right?)

But...I heard it... I heard the 'dun nunt din nunts'. That's what we call them... those little knobby things on the side of the road that make noise when you run over them to tell you, "You're off the road!" or "Wake up!"

I heard the dun nunt din nunts (that's the sound they make) and I kept my eyes shut.

Flash forward to supper time when I heard my husband say, "I don't know why you ride the right side of the road."

Yes, I felt vindicated, in particular because we weren't in my piece of crap car. But mostly, I felt horrified that I have two more kids to teach. I keep telling him, 'You can do anything you want, but you're not allowed to kill me. There are two more of you at home."

Dear God, I hate it. It has truly amped up the stress in my life 1000 fold.

And people do this for a living... teach driving. No kidding.

Posted by Boudicca at June 15, 2011 10:08 PM

Did you ever learn to park? Ha ha ha ha

Posted by: Angus of Jura at June 15, 2011 10:39 PM

My son did the same thing and still does on more narrow roads. I think maybe they don't really have the depth perception to tell that the cars to the left are not really as close as they may feel they are.

Posted by: Lori at June 15, 2011 11:53 PM

This is one job I decided my ex could take the reins with. I absolutely refused to get in the car whilst my teens were training behind the wheel. And I'm a happier mom for it!!
My niece would always wait a little too long to start to brake. Made me a nervous wreck when I was in the backseat. Not sure how well she's doing now, but I remember her dad saying to her that she's not giving it enough time to let the driver behind her know!!
Good luck with the next two! You're a brave woman!

Posted by: Peggy K at June 16, 2011 05:55 AM

Simple path of least resistance logic. You screw up and go to far to the right, you go off the road w/ 2 wheeels for a second, you correct and your all good. You screw up and go to far off the road to the left and BANG, thats it. When a teen, many decisions are made and actions taken based upon which consequences are worse.

Posted by: Web at June 16, 2011 06:13 AM

I'm going to refuse to allow the step-daughter to drive my vehicle. Her mother, who is a terrible drive and afraid of driving and a nightmare to share the road with, cannot wait for the kid to start driving so she won't have to drive ever again.

good luck to you!

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at June 16, 2011 08:43 AM

Better to hug the far right than the center line. Far fewer heart palpations that way! They will get by this stage.

Posted by: Fred G at June 16, 2011 09:16 AM

My daughter did this, just as I did. Daddy taught me to use the hood ornament/center of the hood as a "line of sight"...kind of like learning to aim a weapon. It worked for me and it worked for her, too. I suggest a narrow road where there is no traffic where he can practice driving on the center line first (an empty parking lot works, too).If you don't have a noticeable ridge or ornament on the hood, use a piece of painter's tape. Wishing you lots and lots of patience...it takes tons of practice and I remember being a passenger everywhere we went for many months so she could get the time in to learn, be comfortable, and most importantly, think things through in order to remain safe.

Posted by: Pam at June 16, 2011 11:45 AM

Get a huge side-view mirror put on the passenger side. That way, that mirror will hit mailboxes/garbage cans/parked cars, etc. before the bulk of the car...less damage that way.

(And also what cured me of hugging the right as a teen...hit a mailbox with it and totally destroyed the mirror. Don't know what happened to the mailbox, because I didn't go back and check.)

Posted by: Mrs. Who at June 16, 2011 12:09 PM

I'm with Webb on this one...It's a fear of oncoming traffic... I am dealing with the same thing and Sabby blames it on the Avalanche being too big...lol

Posted by: P'cola Titan at June 16, 2011 02:24 PM

Can't wait until you blog about teaching Bones to drive.

Posted by: diamond dave at June 16, 2011 03:31 PM

Dad- NO. I still can't park. But, at least I realize it, so I always back out and repark and I NEVER parallel park. I dream of a little A-3 that I can just zip in a spot...

Diamond Dave- I'm so worried I won't make it through teaching Bones. I am hoping they raise the driving age. To 21.

Everyone else... I am thinking it may have started out as a 'stay away from everyone else' strategy, but now I think it is more of a depth perception thing. We don't have a hood ornament and he's still short like me, so he can't see over the hood. I think that may be the problem... I hope he grows. Just for that alone. Forget the fact he has bad attitude because he's not grown yet. At 16.

Posted by: Bou at June 16, 2011 07:50 PM

Agreed. Fear of oncoming traffic. No matter his height, he can see his side of the vehicle.

And FWIW, I have a 20 yr old who still has a permit.

(But as for me? I kick ass and parallel park like a fiend!)

Posted by: Rave at June 16, 2011 10:19 PM

my parents cured me of driving too far on the right side of the road by saying, "parked cars can't swerve out of your way; oncoming traffic can."

my dad was very calm about teaching my twin and i to drive; my mom was more ... excitable? we'll go with that. and every once in a while, they'd give us conflicting bits of advice, so invariably we were "doing it wrong."

good luck with the driving! do you think Mr. T will be easier? i can't wait to hear about when Bones learns!

Posted by: rae at June 17, 2011 10:02 AM

Our youngest (23) is still on his permit. My wife will not drive with him and I'm "too busy". Ah the joys of working overtime. The daughters got their licenses the summer after they turned 18, but Stickman may do it before he graduates from college. So it goes.

Re Ringo, perhaps he is just too used to riding in the passenger seat with its sight lines. The driver's side looks different than the shotgun seat.

Then too the Delta 88s I (and my friends) learned on had hood ornaments. From the driver's seat the hood ornament makes a good marker for the line of the right side of the auto. I like Pam's suggestions for marking the hood to provide clues to the younger driver.

Posted by: The Thomas at June 17, 2011 10:51 PM