Driving Lessons

Driving LessonsThis right of passage – giving driving lessons to a teenaged child – is not one faced by single (only) parents – but it’s been a unique challenge for me as an only parent to conquer, I think largely because it involves facing the fact that I have to give up some control.

Thinking back, I can remember the year from when I turned 16 (when you can get a learner’s permit) to when I turned 17 (when you can get your license) as a long year.  I remember doing the math and realizing although it seemed like it took forever to reach 16 (and 17) eventually I would be driving for more years in my life that I wasn’t.

So, I focused on learning to drive – both with my mom’s help and driving lessons and working for just about anyone who would pay me – so I could get a car the day I got my license.  For me, a car was freedom – the same way my bicycle was freedom when I was 10.

Now teaching 16.0 to drive is a whole new experience.

While I like to think I’m not a control freak, keeping things under control is important to me.  There is a definite sense of loss of control when you turn your 16-year old loose (even when you’re in the passenger’s seat and she’s in a parking lot) with your hard-earned automobile.

While I expect her to take a full driver’s ed course over the winter into the spring ahead of her June birthday – I’m trying to teach her how to be situationally smart while driving.  How to make decisions, and not what decisions to make (the model I’ve used for the last 6 years).

But now it’s hard to try to let her make decisions and sit there quietly while our safety (and my car) is on the line.

Slowly we’re getting there.  We’ve been out of parking lots a little and working on practical driving stuff (I’ll leave the technical teaching to the professionals).  And I’m slowly learning my driving lessons while I teach driving lessons to my daughter.

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Back On The Bicycle Again

With some down time during a bright-sunshiney Saturday I set out on a bike ride with 11.5.  During a warm day last November 9.0 and I went out on a ride and I learned a lot, so I figured it was worth a shot to try it again.  The good news is I was not let down.  The bad news, I had ended up with a long walk.

Last  year when 9.0 and I went out on the ride I tried to keep it simple, so we essentially rode around the block to the high school and then around the track at the back of the high school. It was a great fit for the day, and something 9.0 talks about today.

This time, I wanted to give 11.5 the sense of freedom she could get on her bicycle. The sense of freedom I got when I was her age riding my bicycle around town.  Times and places are different but it was worth it.  So we set out going south of our house and pedaled along for a little more than two-and-a-half-miles before 11.5 said she was starting to feel a little tired.

We pulled over, had a little water and then set out to come back north toward our house.

Somewhere along the line she got a flat tire.  I’m not really sure how far she rode with the flat tire.  When we stopped about three-quarters of a mile from our house and I realized she had a flat I did what any parent would do.  I gave up my bike to her and set off walking her bike back home.

Off she went pedaling along around a curve and out of sight.  I was not all that worried that she did not know how to get home and when we stopped to turn around I told her we would go along the road, cross at the light and head for the gates to our community.

As I was pushing her bike home and waving to neighbors along the way, I was ready to point out how each time she wanted to stop I stopped for her.  Throughout the ride I kept checking to make sure she was OK.  Then when I was walking she was gone like the wind.

Except I got home before she did.  That was an interesting experience for me as a parent.  I knew I did not pass her.  I was pretty sure she was not hit by a car along the way.  I did pass one of her friend’s house and I saw the friend outside, so maybe she stopped too?  Not sure, but that would be the first stop I made on my “Where in the world is 11.5?”

As I was making my way out of the community she was pedaling in safe and sound.  So we have a good end to the story.

It turns out she went about a quarter of a mile passed our house to cross the street and then come back.  Not completely sure why she did this-but she did experience the freedom of being out on her bicycle and showed me she can navigate the roads near our house which are not necessarily bicycle friendly.

Lesson learned again.

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The Lessons Learned on a Sunday Bike Ride

It was an eye-opening bike ride late this morning when 9.0 and I set out for a short ride with her friend from across the street.  The differences between boys and girls became pretty clear.

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