Thursday, September 26, 2013

Learning to drive

Prior to becoming a parent, this is what I thought had me fully prepared to be the best parent in the world:

  • Babysitting, which led to
  • Kindergarten/Elementary teacher, which coincided with
  • being an aunt, followed by
  • a Masters Degree in counseling.

I had all the bases covered and was well prepared and skilled in being a parent, no training required, just throw me into the role.

Since becoming a parent, I now realize that none of that and even all of that, does not prepare you to be a parent. If you are like me, you even visualized certain parts of your children growing up and how you would handle those situations when they arose.

If you are not a parent, I hate to break the news, that whatever that image of how you would handle certain life events, probably will never happen.

One recent example of how my expectations failed considerably is drivers training. Mind you, this is just one.

When I took drivers ed in high school, we initially went through a classroom, then even had a driving simulator, followed by the ever important - behind the wheel class. I well remember that first day of behind the wheel and the boy who bragged so loudly about his skill almost killing all of us when he could not figure out how to hold the steering wheel parallel. I don't recall the instructor screaming or even acting scared. But the ever important part, that still exists, is the time, behind the wheel with your parent, as you implement all you have learned from your instructors. I remember driving my mother, from the Minyards on Fort Worth Ave down Colorado to home and her mentioning, nonchalantly, it would be a good idea for me to check my speed. Oh, ok, so while looking down at the speedometer, I veered into the oncoming traffic and my mother, very calmly again, remarking, that I also should keep my eye on the road and develop the ability to "glance" at the speedometer, rather than focusing just on the dashboard. Again, no screaming, just a very calm admonition as I veered straight into the path of an oncoming car.

Fast forward.

My daughters are both old enough to have their learner's permit. I knew I was prepared to teach them to drive, because of not only my credentials outlined above but also because my mom was the "mom instructor" extraordinaire, but I opted to pay for a driving class so they would have the benefit of an instructor like I had. I knew when my time came to be the "mom instructor", I would be the type of parent my mother was and calmly admonish them ONLY when absolutely necessary.

At the beginning of summer, I let them try it out. I even chronicled it here in my blog. Even though my initial attempts at instructor did not meet my pre-conceived ideas of "mom instructor", I was sure that after they took their driving lessons that I would rise to the gauntlet of "mom instructor" that my mother had passed onto me.

Oh my goodness, I hate to admit, but I have failed miserably.

All of my preconceived ideas of how I would be as the ever patient, kind, nurturing "mom instructor" have now vanished and instead been replaced by raving maniac. Just backing out of the driveway, I've caught my heartbeat racing, my neck spinning to look from side to side, and then this voice, that sounds nothing like a nurturer, saying quickly and loudly, "Not so fast!" or "Pull straight back!" or "Did you look both ways?" and even "Be careful! Don't hit that car!" all the time knowing that none of those scenarios are likely to happen, yet being completely unable to control my gut reaction.

I hate to say, but even after completing all their classroom training and behind the wheel instruction, while their ability has improved considerably, mine, as the "mom instructor" continues to fail.

Part of what I had not visualized when contemplating this series of events, was a key element, their very patient grandfather. Dad has taken my girls driving so much more than I have and they come back with their egos intact and spirits lifted. They finally admitted to me that I made them nervous but with Dad, they don't feel that way. He lets them drive his brand new Mini-Cooper on streets with 6 lanes, has them change lanes, and never once has freaked out when he really thought there was a chance that they might take out the tree in the middle of their front yard. Thanks to Dad, there is actually a chance that they will become licensed drivers!

Thank goodness for My Sandwich Life!

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