Archive for March 18th, 2010


Driving Lesson

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality

Have you ever tried to teach someone how to drive? My middle child, a 15-year-old, has been clamoring for his mother and me to start giving him lessons so he can get his learner’s permit and start driving with us on the open roads. Since my wife taught our now 18-year-old daughter how to drive, it seemed only fair that I take on the task with our son.

With the time change this past weekend, we now have a little extra daylight in the evening. So, I decided to take him out to the car after dinner last night and give him his first lesson. As he sat in the driver’s seat, I pointed out all the controls and switches and gauges and what each one did, and then walked him through starting the engine and shifting through the gears (it’s an automatic, so this part went pretty quickly). Finally, I had him s-l-o-w-l-y back the car out of its parking spot and head down the driveway (that doesn’t sound like much, but my driveway is over 600 feet long and has a barn near the street end of it). When we reached the end of the driveway, I had him turn around in front of our barn and head back up to the house. We did that a couple of times, and by then the darkness made us end the lesson.

He did remarkably well for his first time behind the wheel. He could see and feel how the car reacts when he does something like turn the wheel slightly or step on the brake pedal, and I think he’s beginning to realize how complicated the task of driving really is. He managed to make me panic only once during the entire lesson: while backing up I asked him to stop, and instead of stepping on the brake he stepped on the accelerator, causing us to surge unexpectedly. Now heading rapidly toward a tree, I yelled “STOP!” He caught himself and quickly stepped on the brakes.

I would have simply written that off as first-time jitters and kept going, but what he said immediately afterward surprised me: “Now I understand why sometimes people step on the gas when they meant to step on the brakes. I wasn’t paying attention.” It makes me feel really good to know that not only am I trying my best to teach him, but he is also doing his best to learn. And, that little incident is now an experience he’ll never forget.

Neither will I.