I want to announce that I survived my teen’s first driving lesson with me 2 weeks ago, but it was survived in a most unremarkable way.
“You can step on it more.” I said to the teen gently.
“Oh”, then the car picked up a bit more speed.
A short while later.
“You can drive a little faster.” me.
“How fast should I go?” teen.
“Well, this is an empty lot. You can go 15- 20 miles per hour.” me.
“Oh!”, the car picked up speed, only to slow down again shortly after.
I had not expected this driving lesson to test my patience, which is often in short supply.
I turned to look at my teen, who was tensely looking ahead, with both hands tightly holding on to the wheel.
“Should I get out of the car, and push it from behind for you?” me.
The teen laughed, then protested with, “I am scared of going too fast.”
“You are going at 5 miles per hour! You need to drive faster, if we want to try driving on a real road later.” me.
“I am afraid of your car! It is so huge and expensive!” teen.
My mind momentarily went back to the mid 1980’s, when I was 16 years old, learning to drive in an empty parking lot with my uncle. My father was working 6 days a week far away from home, and I wanted to learn to drive. So my uncle offered to give me lessons. In his old beat up Pinto.
Pinto had been discontinued in 1980, and those who know the Pinto might remember it as a laughable car whose best selling feature was being cheap. But this car had been my uncle’s first car since arriving to America. He was mighty proud of it.
So, there I was, driving the old Pinto painfully slow in the empty lot. I had a real excuse for not wanting to go fast. The Pinto had no power brakes!! I bet most of you have no idea what that even means.
It means when you want to slow down or stop the car, you have to step on it with the force of your full body weight like Fred Flintstone!!!
“Okay, so this is a big car. But it drives smoothly. Haven’t you noticed, you pressed down on the gas pedal lightly, the car immediately responds with speed, you press down on the brake lightly, it immediately slows down or stops.” me.
“That is true! This car does drive nice.” teen.
“So don’t be afraid. Trust yourself, and trust the car. Now, let’s drive.” me.
After many more rounds in the parking lot, I instructed my 16 year-old to take the car onto the real road.
“Wow! I am going 40 (mph)!” teen.
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