Learning to Drive

Anja behind wheel in driveway.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Today I am grateful for learning to drive. Guess whose granddaughter is learning to drive a car? Right! Talk about feeling old! But not so old that I don’t remember that incredible right-of-passage.

My parents insisted we learn to drive when we were 16. No slacking around for us until we were 18 or 21, because they were sick of schlepping us everywhere we wanted to go. I clearly remember the first time I got behind the wheel of the behemoth Mercury, with an automatic transmission, but no power steering or brakes. My dad backed it out of the driveway then we changed places. We lived in the middle of the block and he told me to turn left at the first corner. I thought I put my foot on the brake. I thought I could turn that tight, recalcitrant wheel, but when my dad slammed up against the passenger door shouting expletives to God and Jesus, we both knew I needed work.

Construction was underway on a new highway and my dad was the typical sidewalk supervisor so we drove to that location almost every night. Grown, married for the second time and driving with my parents to a wedding in St. Louis, I knew I had passed muster when my DAD said, “You drive through Chicago! I hate that traffic.” Really? I had arrived.

So it was fairly easy to tell my granddaughter I wanted her to drive when Grandpa and I were taking him to an appointment and her back home to Easton, PA. Grandpa, the same man who considers it a “driving lesson” when he lets a kid drive in a school parking lot because he meets his goal of coming back alive, sat in the back with his hat over his eyes. At first. Then even he relaxed.

Some people have good driving instincts by nature. Others not so much. Anja does. I only touched the steering wheel once and it was probably more because I am so unused to riding on the passenger side, so it always looked like she was a little close to mailboxes on the twisty, hilly road. She drove for over 45 minutes and did very well.

I taught my sons, one of John’s daughters and his son to drive. I’m so glad I have the opportunity to help teach my granddaughter, Anja, too. Learning to drive is a huge and wonderful responsibility. . .and a true right-of-passage into the freedom of the open road.

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