Tric Kearney buckles up for a white-knuckle ride with her learner driver child

What is it about other parents that makes them delight in forewarning the parents of younger children of the woes which lie ahead? writes Tric Kearney

We’ve barely announced our pregnancy when they warn us we’ll never sleep again. Observing a two-year-old having a meltdown will inspire the comment, ‘Imagine when he’s a teenager?’

Yet are those teenage years as bad as people say? Personally, I’ve not found that to be the case, but, there is a part of rearing teenagers which no one warned me about.

A part of parenting which quite literally terrified the life out of me... Teaching my children to drive.

Ten years ago I was clueless to the trauma ahead when we rang around getting quotes to insure our eldest. We thought perhaps they believed she was driving a Rolls Royce with the price they were quoting. For a time we wondered would it be a disaster if she took the bus for the rest of her life? In the end, we agreed to stop eating and handed her two L plates.

I’d agreed with yer man that my car would be the one most suited for use by the aspiring driver. This was not because his was a swanky, brand new car, but because I feared for his mental health if anything were to happen to what I’ve long accepted to be his one true love.

What I didn’t realise was that having chosen my car it meant I was automatically voted the idiot of choice to be the co-driver. The one who provided the many hours of unpaid lessons each week sitting alongside the learner.

Let me assure you that nothing in my life to date has terrified me as much as sitting into the passenger seat and handing the car keys to my teenage child. As we drove along real roads with other cars on them, I could not believe that once upon a time I’d thought teaching my child to drive would be a time for us to bond.

Here’s a small sample of the bonding which has taken place over the course of the three learners I’ve accompanied to date,

“I’ve told you a million times, you’re letting the clutch out too quickly.”

“STOP! That’s a stop sign.”

“Out! Move OUT, we are too close to the wall.”

“Be sure and stay on your own side when we turn this corner. STAY ON YOUR OWN SIDE.”

“At this roundabout go as soon as I say go. Okay, go. GO! Too late, don’t go. DON’T GO!”

“Speed up.”

“Slow down.”

As I’ve been driven about, pressing a non-existent brake every three seconds, I’ve also noted some members of the public have no idea what an L plate means.

I believe it would be an excellent idea if a very clear set of instructions could be placed on the back of every learner’s car.

They would read:

  • Please give me a little extra space because just knowing you are behind me is freaking me out.
  • Beware my car may roll backwards when stopped on a hill.
  • A green light may not actually mean I move, but I am trying.
  • If I’m ahead of you at a roundabout you may be late for your appointment.
  • If you beep me I assure you I will conk out at least three times.
  • If you are a pedestrian crossing the road, good luck.
  • If you are a cyclist please do not be freaked out by my driving for miles behind you, followed by another hundred cars travelling behind me.
  • If we meet in a car park my apologies — I need at least two parking spaces.
  • Or perhaps a small bumper sticker would suffice?

‘Be kind. The real driver is sweating in the passenger seat.’



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