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So Your Teenager is Learning to Drive…

 

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‘Teenage driving’ has become synonymous with parents gripping the sides of their seats  tightly, counting the minutes until they can go home, and praying to all possible divinities that, if all else fails, the air bags will work.  Parents feel proud that their little babies are old enough to drive, (and woo (!) who won’t miss the excitement that comes with the realization that soon there will be no more acting like a chauffeur driving to after school activities, shopping malls or friends’ places?). Sure, parents are terrified to be in a car in which a teenager is driving: – but do parents realize that the teenagers are terrified, as well?

Teenagers are thrilled to start driving! It makes it easier for us to sneak out of the house when we are able to drive places instead of walking or getting a lift from someone. We love the freedom of being able to finally control the radio stations, and to say “shush! Stop distracting me! No more talking in my car!” when our brothers and sisters or parents are being annoying in the car. We love getting a “cool” (hypothetically speaking of course, because when does that ever turn about to be the case?) licence picture, and being able, eventually, to drive ourselves places instead of having to wait around for parents.

Parents are scared of being in a car with their teenager. Who wouldn’t be? Their lives are in the hands of a teenager, and they have no way of stopping the car in case of an accident. Meanwhile, we teenagers are terrified as well. Not of killing anyone: – that’s just plain silly. No, instead we’re terrified of scratching the car. We know that any damage done to the car: – even the tiniest of scratches- will be coming out of our allowance. Do you really think we have enough money to cover a scratch, let alone the damage caused to the car from an accident? No. We don’t. So don’t worry: – we won’t kill anyone. We won’t do anything that would harm the car, and our piggy banks.

So, the next time you’re in a car with your teenager and you’re desperately wishing that there was someone- anyone!: – who could have done this instead of you, there is. They are called driving instructors, and they’re shining angels from the driving heavens above.  I have one of these angels, and he’s made me become even more terrified to drive. You see, he isn’t exactly what one would call a ‘spring chicken’ and my driving isn’t exactly what one would classify as being ‘good’. In fact, we regularly go through a routine which goes something like this:

Me (driving, thinking of pretty much anything apart from the road in front of me.)

Driving Instructor:  “Car! Car! Car!”

Me (thinking he’s gone insane): ‘Yes…? I do realize we’re in a car.”

Driving Instructor: “No! I mean you almost just hit those three cars! You need to stay on your side of the road!”

Me: “I don’t understand why I can’t drive in the middle of the road? It makes turning a whole lot easier, you know.”

Driving Instructor: “Stop! You were supposed to give way, just then!”

Me: “Yeah, but I really hate having to come to a stop just to give way, and I’m pretty sure they’re more experienced than I am and can stop faster, so I decided not to.”

I also tend to go too fast around bends, too slow on main roads and just generally fail to signal when I’m turning. I don’t do it on purpose- It just seems like a lot of hassle having to signal, slow down, change gears, speed up, slow down, and stop at red lights every five minutes.

I’m terrified that one day I’m going to give my driving instructor a heart attack, though- I don’t know if that would be murder, but I really wouldn’t suit a lifetime in prison. It really would be better for everyone involved if I learned to drive better.

In the meantime, though, if your teenager doesn’t have a driving instructor, embrace their maniacal driving. Pretend you’re on your very own, private roller coaster. Sure it’s being operated by your teen, but you’ve both got seat belts, right? And air bags? And insurance?  Well, then, why are you still holding the car door handle like your life depends on it? Just take a deep breath, and pretend you’re on California Screamin’ at Disney’s California Adventure park: – and guess what? For this version you don’t even have to pay admission, and there’s certainly no queues! Aren’t you lucky?

Disclaimer: By the way, just so it’s clear, I’m not normally this stupid. Driving just seems to reduce my IQ down to zero.

Photo Credit: The Guardian

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