On a wing, and a prayer, and full tank of diesel

She sat in the driver's sear and looked at me expectantly.  It was one of those what do I do now moments.  Like when she lay in my arms on the day I brought her home from hospital, almost 22 years ago.

I'd thought that we were ready.

She'd got the licence, I bought the L plates, it was time to start the lessons.  Something I'd been putting off for a number of years.  It's supposed to be one of those activities that sends your stress levels stratospheric, isn't it?  And it's not her I'm worried about, it's me.  I'm the one prone to panic, while she is mostly calm and sensible, and she's 21, so no longer a crazy teenager ..

But where to start?  It's not like other parenting activities.  Fasten a nappy badly and it might leak, take a corner badly aaaaand @563*@%£&@^.

Driving is serious stuff apparently.  So naturally I headed for google and found the ultimate (free) guide to teaching your child to drive.  Printing it off was the thing, I didn't exactly read, digest and memorise.

Actually I barely glanced at it.  You know all the usual excuses: work, children, the housework, the 'to do' list.

And so I found myself in a quiet corner of the IKEA car park one morning when the younger children were in school.  We swapped seats, and then we began.

Deep breaths all round.  The key controls were explained.  She doesn't need to know about fog lights on lesson one, right?

The clutch was the main sticking point that day.  In more ways than one.

When driving has become as instinctive as breathing, how do you explain the way the clutch feels when it is engaged?

Still I must have said something useful as the car lurched forwards shortly afterwards to Angel's delight!  Eventually no more forward movement was possible, so I took control and drove back around the car park, and we did it all again.  And again.  And again.  It went pretty well.  I did read somewhere that stalling is bad for diesel cars, but I'm hoping that that is not true!

Especially as this has been a very expensive business so far.  As Angel says, the barriers to young people succeeding today are mostly about money, and being able to drive is a life skill that employers expect from graduates.  This is what I have paid out so far:

Theory Test: €40

Permit: €35

Provisional Driving Licence: €55

Insurance so she can drive my car: €1,200

'L' Plates: €5

That's €1,335, and 'only' another €500 or so to spend.  Because we still have to organise and pay for the official lessons and The Test itself.

Since that first day, we've moved on the bigger car parks, carrying passengers (well her sister anyway), and industrial estates, where we play dodge the truck.  Now she's even asking if she can try driving around the local area.  Where the neighbours might see her!  This girl is definitely growing in confidence behind the wheel, she'll be flying around in no time.  And I know that the Road Safety Authority would have us believe that cars are almost as dangerous as guns, but I don't buy that.  The prayers have not been needed, and I've barely had a moment of worry so far.  After coping with grief, a difficult marriage break down and now regular autistic meltdowns, teaching my daughter to drive is like a picnic in the park.  And actually I'm really enjoying doing some normal parenting, and spending time with her.  Until the diesel runs out..





12 comments:

  1. Brilliant! But also 'what???'' for the cost. Fair play to the two of ye, I remember my arguements with the drivinglesson parent like they happened yesterday.

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  2. In the same boat here...or I would be if I could afford to put Lucy on my insurance. Until then she has to make do with her driving lessons.

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    1. I'm hoping to save money on driving lessons by doing it this way :)

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  3. Have taught two already as their Dad doesn't have the mentality or patience. My first was easy enough, a few minor hairy moments, but sweet Jesus, my second nearly killed me,(literally). We mounted pavements, stopped at stop signs ( I mean at them like two inches away) ignored roundabouts, broke lights and caused a major traffic jam which ended in my son getting out to the driving seat and walking off!
    Still alls well that ends well.... we took a break and we're still on it! Your daughter is obviously a born driver. Lucky you. Great post.

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    1. Fair play to you for getting back in the passenger seat after all those escapades! We haven't tried roundabouts yet, or anything too difficult, so I may be writing a completely different post in a few months time :) Glad you liked it x

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  4. My first car cost less than your insurance. Best way to learn to clutch is at the top of a hill.

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    1. That's good advice about the clutch, and yes my first car only cost £350 back in 1984 :)

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  5. I can honestly say that I am dreading this moment. I'm not at all sure that I will cope as well as you! Sounds like your daughter has enough confidence for both of you - good luck to her, I am sure she will be driving in no time :)

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  6. oh! This is a brave thing! It sounds as if your girl is doing a wonderful job...but I panic when I thinking about what our experience will be like! I'm glad that it is going well. :))

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    1. I just know that you will do an amazing job when the time comes x

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