Learning To Drive With 4 Kids In the Backseat and A Disgruntled Hubby in the Front
by Judy Schwab
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I confess to being a “late bloomer” when it came to driving. In my defense, as a teen, I lived in a very small community and wherever I wanted to go I walked or begged a ride. I lived with my Mom and she didn't drive either, so there was no practice car available and I just put the whole driving thing on the back burner.
When I got married I assumed he would be my permanent chauffeur and I was fairly content with that arrangement. Content, that is, till four children came along (not all at once of course) and I realized that if I didn't learn to drive, I'd never be leaving the house without them by my side..ALWAYS!!
Still, I wasn't yet ready for the leap of faith required to get behind the wheel of a car and there was an endless supply of excuses for not learning. To be honest, I wasn't sure I could do it, one of those doubt things from my overly shy childhood days.
Then, my Mom, who was 58 at the time, said that she would learn to drive if I would and before you could say “Check your rear view mirror and put on your turn signals” we were both enrolled at the AAA driving school.
Prior to this, my husband would take Mom, me, 4 kids and our station wagon to the local parking lot where we would practice, practice, practice much to everyone's dismay.
Once I enrolled in the driving school I learned it was really much easier taking lessons from someone you weren't going to be sleeping with later in the evening.
Several weeks went by and eventually the big day came around. Mom and I spent the earlier part reassuring each other that we would be Bradford's next official drivers. My husband, on the other hand, felt compelled to remind us that very few people make it on their first try and we were not to be disappointed if we failed. Obviously he didn't have a lot of faith in my newly acquired skills or was just thinking back to his own first test failure.
Regardless, we sat in the waiting area, then took our eye exams and written tests, passing both without a problem. As I sat there, taking deep breaths, and trying to relax, I saw one teenager after another come and go, and NOT with their new driver's licenses in hand. Things were not boding well for Mom and me.
Finally our time came and we had two separate instructors to put us through our paces. I guess we got there as shifts were changing because the fellow who had been failing people right and left was nowhere in sight and my instructor turned out to be a pleasant young man with a smile on his face.
His first comment put me right at ease. “You know”, he said sincerely, “this is the first time I've done this.” “What a coincidence”, I replied, “it's my first time too!”.
Whether it was my age or my resemblance to his own mother, I passed with flying colors as did my Mom.
When we got home we were fairly bursting with delight and couldn't wait to share our good news. It fell on deaf ears.
My husband was more interested in who was going to make dinner for 4 hungry kids and the person who had been “stuck” with them all day.
Personally, I think he was just jealous of our success.
Still, my kids were pleased, and I couldn't wait to take our green, 1968 Ford Country Squire Station Wagon out for a spin..sans children, and definitely sans hubby!
I got in the car, did all the things you were supposed to do and slowly made my way out Clarence Street, proud as a peacock as I sat behind the wheel of that green behemoth. I was so proud, in fact, that I failed to notice the first stop sign I came to and slipped right past, seeing it my peripheral vision as I went by.
As luck would have it, or perhaps my husband was home with a voodoo doll resembling his errant spouse, the next thing I saw in my rear view mirror was the flashing lights of the local police.
To be honest, I don't recall if I got a ticket or a warning, because I was too busy dying of embarrassment. As I look back on that day, I have to laugh and it was a great lesson in not being too impressed with oneself.
My Mom took to driving like a duck takes to water and it wasn't at all unusual for her to be zipping around with no thought to weather, mileage, or kids waiting for dinner! I, on the other hand, stayed mostly withing the confines of Bradford, but oh what a sense of freedom those short flights brought me.
It's been 35 years since I got my license. Since that time, my kids have grown and have their own families to feed, my husband and I divorced, my Mom passed away, and I occasionally leave my fifty mile comfort zone and hop onto the Interstate.
But, learning to drive was a genuine accomplishment for me (and my Mom), and I have no doubt she's up there in heaven right now reminding me to watch for stop signs and buckle up.
Once a Mom, always a Mom.
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I enjoyed this article! It reminds me of my neighbor when I was growing up at Caesar, MS. He nor his wife knew how to drive but bought a car anyway. He got behind the wheel, thinking how easy it would be, and took down about 100 feet of my dad's fence. He has been dead for years but I still get a chuckle out of his driving experience!
Smiling. Well done.