Drivers Ed

Remember when Drivers Ed was part of the curriculum in school? And it was free. Now it has to be taken from an independent business (in our state anyway) and runs about 500 bucks. Although my daughter is already 15 1/2 she has decided to wait until summer to take the course. Her homework load is too much and driving in snow is probably not the best thing for a new driver. That means that she won't be licensed until she is well into her 16th year which is fine by me. I truthfully think 16 is too young to be operating a huge machine on wheels. Their little brains are just not developed enough to understand the consequences for the decisions they choose to make.

I should know, I was there once. I grew up in a very small town and we all took the same class taught by Mr. Green.  Three students in a car and Mr. Green in the passenger seat with his foot raised above his special break pedal, just in case. I don't remember much of the class or the driving. Our town was about 20 miles from a freeway so I doubt that we got in any freeway driving. Maybe the highway though, we had a lot of that. If you were a 'farm kid' you were probably driving a few years before everyone else.

My mom didn't drive then and still doesn't to this day. She was just never interested, or maybe too scared to even try. Oh a few times she was forced to drive home after my dad got too drunk. I'm not sure which one on the road was more dangerous. That left either my older brother or my dad to take me out for practice drives. My brother probably wasn't the best one to look up to. He had a souped up Chevy Impala and one time in the winter took me and my little brother to spin brodies in the football field. We're were supposed to be out looking at Christmas lights. I told my parents the lights were such a blur while going so fast past them.  That got me an evil look and an elbow jab to the ribs.

So that left my dad. I was always scared of my dad. Surly when sober and funny when drunk; but just as scary nonetheless. One day he thought he should take me out driving. We headed to another small town about 30 miles away. He had a 4 door Plymouth Fury wagon and we hit the highway, with me at the wheel going at the top speed of 40 mph. I was terrified of driving and being with him while driving, and that's all the speed I could muster. Cars were honking and passing us probably wondering what in the hell was Marvin up to? When we arrived in town he was a nervous wreck. He told me where to turn and to park outside the only tavern in town. He brought me out a soda and he settled in for a nerve settling drink. I don't suppose he kept me waiting long and then we had the long journey home, with no one saying a word and I'm sure traveling at the same speed.

In order to take a test for a drivers license, we had to travel to another town. I swear out town didn't have ANYthing! I proudly got my license on my 16th birthday in spite of a raging hangover. Can you imagine? I don't know how I even survived to be 16 in the first place. I don't remember who I was with but obviously drinking was involved. How the examiner couldn't smell the night-before alcohol on me was a miracle. Driving my brother's Chevy, the instructor took me through the tasks of parallel parking, which I hated then and still do. I will drive around the block 10 times to get an end parking space just so I don't have to parallel park. He also had me do the emergency stop. The first time I slowly put my foot on the brake. He said to do it harder. So I got up to speed up again and let him have it. My brother had a bunch of driftwood in the back window picked up from old beach trips and pieces of wood went flying. But I stopped!

When it comes time to take my daughter out for her practice drives I'm sure she will want me to do it rather than her father. He is not the most patient person and tends to over-dramatize. He tried to teach me to drive a stick once. I had learned once but forgotten over the years and just couldn't get the timing down as when to shift from 1st into 2nd. We're driving down the road and I hadn't shifted yet, he starts yelling "You're going to blow the engine UP, shift already!" I promptly pulled over and got out. I was done with his driving lesson.

I have done things I shouldn't have while driving, as a teen and into young adulthood, but I have never been in an accident. I should say that I have never been driving and been in an accident even to this day. I have been in an accident with alcohol involved and others driving, which was just as stupid. I've never had a speeding ticket though. So all-in-all I think I have been a pretty good driver.

Drivers Ed is just another step closer to adulthood, some will pass with flying colors and the others we just flip off in traffic.


fernvalley01 said…
Great minds think alike (my post on driving) My drivers ed instructor was an A** and Dad went against all better judgement and took me driving himself to make sure I passed my licsense. He was so disgusted with the instructor.Funny thing is ,I failed my first test after the instructors lessons, and passed with flying colors after I drove for 1 week with my dad!
Peruby said…
A drivers license for us back then was more of a necessity. We had to get places - we had to work.

My daughter waited also. Until she was well into her 17th year. It made things easier, except I had to keep driving her places.

Still, a small price to pay for the peace of mind.

Very similar life for me. My mother did not drive. My dad drank. My saving grace was I had wonderful sisters to teach me to drive. Hate to parallel park, also.
Grumpy said…
Your husband has no patience? He tells you to shift one time, for the sake of the engine, and you pull over and get out? It was a dark day when they let women behind the wheel.

I had many classmates in high school whose mothers never learned to drive. I never understood that.
Nezzy said…
I was glad when Geek Son got his drivers license so he could play taxi driver for himself and his little sis, Social Butterfly. Then again farm kids drive tractors and the like almost as soon as the diapers come off! Heehehee!

My Drivers Ed. teacher was our football Coach. He was a chubby fella whose wife always had him on some sorta diet. He'd have us drive to little country stores and buy junk food. As we got closer to school he'd have us help get rid of the evidence. His wife was also a High School teacher! :o)

God bless ya girl and have a most amazin' day!!!
kden said…
Funny story Nezzy. Mr. Green was the football coach too.

And yes Grumpy, no patience. All he had to do was ask nice, not get so excited about it.
kden said…
I published this comment and then accidently refused it instead of deleting it. So I'm putting it back in manually. Thanks Claire
Love the story kden! Comments to the commentators: my nephews and brothers drove tractors and cars long before legal age. My mom & I went through driver's ed together, she did fine as did I. Get this...I helped all three of my kids through this life process as this was after my first divorce!! We all survived! I remember taking my daughter to a couple of housing developments and purposely, using a Mazda stick shift, took her up hills and trained her on stick shift driving and how to use the ER brake release trick on a huge sloping a stop sign. My first husband taught me stick shift driving and he was not patient either. None of my kids have had "their fault" accidents. My daughter was rear ended once in my new, little Honda..but that's it. My boys, speeding tickets and parking tickets, not so, never a ticket. Loved your story kden. Made me chuckle, thanks for that!

Claire King

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