Friday, 22 July 2011

Learning to drive #2*

* Parental advisory: there is swearing in this post.

If there’s anything that will turn your kids against you (and in some cases actually kill you), it’s trying to teach them to drive.

Having seen one learner-driver – my daughter – through to legal status, and aged a good 10 years in the process, I did everything possible to wriggle out of going through the same with my son. But one thing all learner-drivers need is practice, so it becomes practically a parental duty to allow them to drive your car, with you as the accompanying licensed driver, at some stage.

This morning my son accompanied my dogs and me up the mountain for our morning walk – something that necessitates a 10km round-trip drive. He hates walking but the opportunity for a practice drive proved marginally stronger than his loathing for good, healthy exercise in the outdoors (he’s doing his driver’s test on Tuesday).

My son said little. I said much:

‘Give it a bit more petrol.’

‘Look. Did you look? Look! Oh god.’

‘Okay, ease off the … take your foot off the … stop. Stop! STOP!

‘That’s okay, ignore him.’ (Referring to a driver tailgating us.) ‘No, don’t go onto the hard shoulder, there’s a cyclist… The cyclist! The cyclist! Oh Jesus! Christ. I think I just wet myself.’

‘Next left.’

‘Left. Left here! Here! Here! Turn! TURN!

‘Listen, don’t leave it until so late to turn. If you… okay, slow down. Slower. Slower. Slower.’ (I had to put my head between my knees to draw breath at this stage so I didn’t see how he got across the intersection.)

‘Okay, treat this as a stop street. Wait until you can see what’s coming. No, really, stop. Stop! STOP! Fucking hell! Oh Christ, the bollards. Watch out for the… Fuck!

‘The car’s going to stall. Okay, hand brake and restart. No, out of gear. Clutch. CLUTCH! Okay. Now take it forward slowly. SLOWLY!! Fucking hell!’

There was a 40-minute break here while I stormed up the mountain with the dogs. My son brought up the rear and I could feel the lasers of his eyes penetrating the back of my skull.

Back in the car for the return journey.

‘Okay, remember, treat this as a stop street. AS A STOP STREET! Jesus Christ.’

‘Edge forward. EDGE forward. You can’t go unless you can see the street is clear. Can you…? Aaaargghghgh!’ (And head between knees again, this time to quell imminent upchuck.)

‘Okay. Cool. It’s clear, you can go. You can go. Go. GO! Go, for god’s sake! What? It’s a million fucking miles away! Go! Oh god, more petrol, more petrol, more… Jesus. Quick, into neutral and restart. Don’t panic. DON’T PANIC!!

‘Turn. Turn! TURN!’ (Out the window) ‘Sorry! Learner driver!’

‘Good. You’re doing well. Don’t accelerate down the hill. No, seriously. Brake a bit. Brake! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

‘Okay, turn. Slooowly. Slowly. SLOWLY! Ow.’ (Head hits dashboard.) ‘Okay, get out, let me park it.’

‘Not bad at all. You just need a bit more practice.’

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1 comment:

keryn said...

I have been there. Teaching my girl to drive was the most scared I have ever been in my life. It enderd with the car in a ditch; "You said to turn right!" "I meant at the next intersection!!" and her storming off shrieking "No-one in the world should have to have a mother like YOU!"

6 years later, she can't even remember it......

I think the last of the three fuck!s in your post should have been capitalised. That last one is always more emphatic because you're sure death is imminent.