Posts Tagged ‘teach’


Of Mothers Day And Daughters

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality, Yesterday's Memories

Mothers Day is coming up this weekend, and like many dutiful sons and daughters I will be calling my mother sometime during that day. She lives about 1,000 miles away, so it would be difficult at best to hop in the car and drive over for a visit. I’ve made the trip back and forth several times, and the best one-way time I marked was about 15 hours. It might be possible to do the round trip in a weekend, but it’s not very practical.

I’ll also be spending time with my wife, who as I’ve mentioned in other posts is herself a mother of three. She will be calling her mother just as I will, but she will also be looking to receive a call for the first time from one child who no longer lives at home – our 19-year-old daughter. We aren’t really sure if she will call; we haven’t heard from her since before her birthday almost a month ago. We send e-mails and text messages, and we forward her regular mail periodically, but we have neither seen nor heard anything in return (her last message said she was mailing a letter to us, but we still haven’t received it). It makes both her mother and me very anxious at times, but I have come to realize that my parents probably felt the same way when I left home, since I also didn’t call or visit very often.

My wife hasn’t talked much about it to me, but I’m sure it’s a strange feeling for her, just as it was for our own mothers when we first moved away from home.  It certainly feels strange to me! I never really appreciated that before, and I suppose you can’t until it actually happens to you – it’s one of those rites of passage that every parent goes through at some point, and I have come to one very definite conclusion that I’d like to share.

We spend eighteen years or so preparing our children to go out on their own, teaching them how to tell good from bad and right from wrong, and hoping we can pass along at least some of the experiences we’ve had so they won’t be quite so naive as we were when we left home. I didn’t listen to half of what my parents tried to warn me about, and I learned it the hard way. Only then did I realize what they were trying to tell me, and I vowed to not let my children make the same mistakes.

Now that I’ve seen it from both sides, I’ve come to the conclusion that a parent’s attempts to pass along those experiences to their teenage children is mostly a lost cause; try as we might to help them avoid it, they’re still going to make similar mistakes, and they’re going to have to deal with the consequences just as we did. All we can do in the meantime is take a deep breath and say a small prayer that they will use at least a little bit of what we tried to teach them.

One of those teachings we hope our daughter will remember is the one that says she should call her mother on Mothers Day. And if your mother is still around, I hope you will remember to call or visit her this weekend as well.

Happy Mothers Day to all you moms out there!


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.