We are almost “done” in the teaching your kids to drive phase of our life. Well, I say done but my Mum, who hasn’t driven for 12 years, still has advice to offer me on occasion, so I guess parents never stop “teaching” when they are passengers in our cars.
Our youngest son, Matthew, saved his own money and, like his brother, paid cash for his first car. And, again like his brother, bought a Subaru. Next doors son has one too, so our side of the street probably looks quite worrisome to our neighbours with much younger children sharing the road space.
Never one to take the easy path Matthew decided on a manual car. We tried to steer him away from this as my car, the one he primarily was learning in, is automatic. And, ridiculous I know, but I have never learnt to drive a manual. So this made teaching him and getting his driving hours up limited to Andrew as once he had his own car driving mine lost its appeal. We thought that once he got his license and with that gained some confidence and improved skills, then go and buy a manual. But his mind was set.
His dream first car came along, and that was that. I think Matthew thought that after a few minutes he would get the hang of driving it and away he would go. Well not quite. He isn’t afraid to admit that it has been really challenging and frustrating. He has come back some days feeling entirely defeated. Andrew has come back many days feeling quite stressed and big brother has unintentionally made him feel less than competent. I empathise with Andrew, encourage Matthew and slap Jesse. We have all had a few headaches.
So this week he asked me to take him out in his car. It’s no secret that I love Matthews car, and he loves that I do. And now that he just needs to practice getting the gear changes “smoother” I feel ok going out with him. A month or two ago I hadn’t wanted to be in the position of having to take over and drive and not be able to.
So off we go. His driving was perfect, and I could see he was chuffed I thought so. He had a plan for our drive. We went to Le Cornu’s carpark, and he was going to teach me how to drive a manual. Yikes! He gave me a fabulous run down before we started of what to do and what never to do, “Never change from second to first Mum. Never!” For a boy that Dad and big brother didn’t think listened to them all his instructions started with “Dad said…………….” or “Jesse said…………………….” He was kind and incredibly patient as I finally took off after stalling the car twice. This was way harder than it looked and he shot me a knowing glance.
Well, I’d like to say that I then proceeded to master the art of gear changes. I managed to get from first to second gear and then failed in my attempt to get to third, instead revving quite loudly in neutral. I “forgot” to put the clutch in once and overreached for the gear stick twice. But it was so much fun, and his confidence on the drive home was clearly elevated. He was the more experienced and knowledgeable driver, and it reflected in his demeanour. He was more sure of himself and so glad that I was complaining how hard I had found it.
I have said all along that Matthew will be a much better driver when he doesn’t have someone in the car watching his every move. It makes him very nervous and kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy he then makes mistakes he wouldn’t usually do. Having a supervising driver is not reassuring for him at all.
So today I learnt that I really love my automatic car but should have learnt a manual when I too was 17 years old.
I learnt that Matthew does listen to our instructions and advice a lot more than we realise.
I learnt that an impatient child by nature can have all the patience in the world.
I learnt yet again that saying “me too” is unifying.
I learnt that reversing the role of parent/teacher, child/learner does wonders for both. Enlightens, empowers and brings a lot of laughs.
I learnt that LeCornu’s car park is not big enough lol.