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
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..
Reasons to be Cheerful - Happy Mothering Sunday #R2BC - Lucky me, the girls made me breakfast in bed Happy Thursday friends, How are you doing? I'm having a funny old week. there is nothing particularity wrong...