Saturday, August 15, 2009

Driving

Today, FB and I went out to a deserted school parking lot so that he could practice his driving.

Somehow, he managed to escape teenagerhood without getting a driver's license and now finds himself at age 27, unable to go grocery shopping. Most of the time, this is not a big deal — we live in a walkable city with excellent public transportation. On a few occasions, it has been more of a problem — for instance, when we moved from Rhode Island to California and I had to drive the whole way or when I woke up with a 104 degree fever and he had to call friends to take me to the emergency room. It all evens out in the end, though. For example, I am hopeless when it comes to computers, whereas he is a genius, so he uncomplainingly provides excellent, prompt tech support.

Since our city is so pedestrian-friendly, it is not easy to feel a sense of urgency about learning to drive. You could live here forever and only occasionally encounter driving-related inconveniences.

At least, that's true as long as you don't have an infant.

I have never been one for issuing ultimatums, but I have put my foot down on one thing: I will not drive myself to the hospital/birth center when I am in labor.

In preparation for that hoped-for day, FB has kindly consented to start the learning-to-drive process. So far, he's gotten his permit and played a lot of Mario Kart.

Today's excursion was his first time behind the wheel since a previous, aborted attempt to accomplish the same goal about 4 years ago. He did very well. His spacial perception and hand-eye coordination puts mine to shame, so I'm sure he'll pick it up quickly. He just needs enough confidence driving at speed to brave the real roads. The streets of our city are pretty busy, but there are many quiet, leafy suburbs just a few miles away, so he can practice there.

There really is a lot to be said for learning to drive when you are young and feel incinvible. At 16, you're much more ready to jump in and try something without contemplating the dangers. I learned to drive on my family's only car at the time — a 1991 Chevy Suburban — and I can't imagine getting behind the wheel of such a tank now. My first major driving experience (other than noodling around my hometown) was a trip to Nova Scotia with FB. I look back now and wonder how we survived.

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