Posted by Len Ramirez, Total Teen Dad | Posted in Total Teen Dad | Posted on 21-05-2010
Tags: drivers license, driving, independence
Driving a car is serious business. After all, there are a lot of crazy drivers out there!
That’s why when my 14 year old asked if she could start driving…I said yes.
I know what you’re thinking. But, let me defend my position. My thought process was this. If I spread out the drivers training over a period of a couple years, then she’ll be plenty ready and comfortable behind the wheel when it’s time for her to drive herself. She will become more independent.
First, starting the car was enough. Then shifting the automatic gear for me made her happy. Then, she wanted to back the car out of the driveway. And put it back in the driveway.
After I was convinced she knew how all the controls in the car worked, it was time to get out. So we practiced parking on weekends up at the college parking lot. This involved endless circles, stopping and going, parking and reversing.
I realized this was actually a great way for her to get very familiar and get over the fear of driving. We worked on making smooth turns and complete stops. We worked on gradual acceleration and controlling the car if we have to slam on the brakes in the rain.
But be forewarned! At first, the requests to drive will be here and there. Then they become increasingly more frequent. We graduated to driving around the campus and then into the residential neighborhoods behind the college on Saturday mornings.
Something strange began to happen. I began to see things I had never seen before. The neighborhood I lived in! There were shopping centers and restaurants I never knew existed. Since when were there so many water towers in the San Mateo hills? And when did that skate park get put in?!
It was terrible! We had to start having breakfast out, buy fresh vegetables and bread at the farmers markets, and make frequent stops at our favorite specialty drink shops (aka Peets).
Mind you, these were short hops from the college parking lot and after much practice on campus. Not only do you want to make sure your teen is safe, but you want to be sure nobody else gets hurt as well.
My little girl is growing up. At 15 1/2, she passed her written drivers test with a perfect score. While taking an official drivers training course as required by law, her instructor repeatedly told me how well she was driving and that she was going to do just fine. At 16, she passed her drivers test with only one point marked off – because she hit a pothole and didn’t slow down enough. Really?
No deaths. No accidents. No driving errors.
That’s okay. To me, that’s a perfect score!