Driving Lessons

A sunny day. High forties. Fluffy white clouds streaked across the sky.

A man stands outside with his young daughters. There are two bikes out in the driveway: A two-wheeler with training wheels. And one of those newfangled bikes, bright red seat a couple of inches off the ground. Pedals in front. A giant red handle in the back so that the child can be pushed along the sidewalk.

* * *

“Watch the curb! Watch the curb!”

Filbuster gets too close and scrapes the front tire on concrete.


* * *

I remember Filibuster and V riding their cars in the garage. V year-round in a pink hat and winter boots; Filibuster clad entirely in pink. We’d open the garage doors and back the cars into the driveway. And V and Filibuster would play “traffic,” V pedaling her purple Big-Wheel, Filibuster riding her yellow car, occasionally slapping down on the horn to speed her sister up.

* * *

“Four way stop. It’s your turn. Wait. You can’t go now. You took too long. Go. Go!”

V takes the left hand turn and heads across a narrow bridge. I grasp the side of the seat and press on my imaginary brake.

* * *

After dinner, my husband or I would go out with the girls. We’d drink our coffee and hold up the crappy looking traffic light we’d fashioned from a paint stirrer and circles of construction paper; red and yellow and green.

“Green light, GO!” My husband would say. And the girls would be off. Round and rounding it, going so fast that within a year, they’d worn holes into the plastic tires of their vehicles.

* * *

“Don’t hit that mirror.” I point to the 3 by 5 construction grade mirror someone had parked at the curb. “Watch that truck. Don’t hit that lady. Get on the right side of the road!”

* * *

Some evenings, my parents would stop by. Watch the girls going around in the garage. “Where do you expect they get all that energy?” My dad would ask. “Makes me tired just looking at them.”

“Yellow light, caution, caution, caution,” my husband would say. And the girls would slow their cars to a more reasonable speed.

* * *

“Speed it up a bit, Filibuster.”

“I’m going thirty, Mom. Oh, no. There’s someone behind me. They’re going to beep at me.”

* * *

“Red light, stop.” The girls would stop and catch their breath. Occasionally, they’d run the light, giggling and speeding away, and my husband would chase them and give them a ticket.

* * *

“V, let’s pull over into this development. See what’s what in here.”
“You’re not fooling me, Mom. You just need a break. And you can stop clutching the door handle, by the way.”

* * *

“Green light, GO!”

And the cycle would begin again and the girls would drive away, always circling back.

* * *

After three hours of driving lessons, we return home. My butt has gone numb. My braking foot is stiff. I’ve worn a hole in the door handle from holding it in a death grip. We’ve been tooted at. We’ve been rudely passed. We’ve had a few close calls.

V pulls the car into the garage and, this time, doesn’t hit the drywall. She goes into the house, beaming.

My girls are on their way.

Sometimes, I wish I had a giant red handle for the back of my car.

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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Driving Lessons

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Driving Lessons

A sunny day. High forties. Fluffy white clouds streaked across the sky.

A man stands outside with his young daughters. There are two bikes out in the driveway: A two-wheeler with training wheels. And one of those newfangled bikes, bright red seat a couple of inches off the ground. Pedals in front. A giant red handle in the back so that the child can be pushed along the sidewalk.

* * *

“Watch the curb! Watch the curb!”

Filbuster gets too close and scrapes the front tire on concrete.


* * *

I remember Filibuster and V riding their cars in the garage. V year-round in a pink hat and winter boots; Filibuster clad entirely in pink. We’d open the garage doors and back the cars into the driveway. And V and Filibuster would play “traffic,” V pedaling her purple Big-Wheel, Filibuster riding her yellow car, occasionally slapping down on the horn to speed her sister up.

* * *

“Four way stop. It’s your turn. Wait. You can’t go now. You took too long. Go. Go!”

V takes the left hand turn and heads across a narrow bridge. I grasp the side of the seat and press on my imaginary brake.

* * *

After dinner, my husband or I would go out with the girls. We’d drink our coffee and hold up the crappy looking traffic light we’d fashioned from a paint stirrer and circles of construction paper; red and yellow and green.

“Green light, GO!” My husband would say. And the girls would be off. Round and rounding it, going so fast that within a year, they’d worn holes into the plastic tires of their vehicles.

* * *

“Don’t hit that mirror.” I point to the 3 by 5 construction grade mirror someone had parked at the curb. “Watch that truck. Don’t hit that lady. Get on the right side of the road!”

* * *

Some evenings, my parents would stop by. Watch the girls going around in the garage. “Where do you expect they get all that energy?” My dad would ask. “Makes me tired just looking at them.”

“Yellow light, caution, caution, caution,” my husband would say. And the girls would slow their cars to a more reasonable speed.

* * *

“Speed it up a bit, Filibuster.”

“I’m going thirty, Mom. Oh, no. There’s someone behind me. They’re going to beep at me.”

* * *

“Red light, stop.” The girls would stop and catch their breath. Occasionally, they’d run the light, giggling and speeding away, and my husband would chase them and give them a ticket.

* * *

“V, let’s pull over into this development. See what’s what in here.”
“You’re not fooling me, Mom. You just need a break. And you can stop clutching the door handle, by the way.”

* * *

“Green light, GO!”

And the cycle would begin again and the girls would drive away, always circling back.

* * *

After three hours of driving lessons, we return home. My butt has gone numb. My braking foot is stiff. I’ve worn a hole in the door handle from holding it in a death grip. We’ve been tooted at. We’ve been rudely passed. We’ve had a few close calls.

V pulls the car into the garage and, this time, doesn’t hit the drywall. She goes into the house, beaming.

My girls are on their way.

Sometimes, I wish I had a giant red handle for the back of my car.

Labels: , ,

3 Comments:

At January 29, 2012 at 11:14 AM , Anonymous Elizabeth Young said...

You're doing very well! My ex-husband tried to teach me to drive. ONE lesson and he quit! He said he would happily pay for me to go to a driving school. So hang in - your daughter and your pocket book will thank you!

 
At January 29, 2012 at 2:20 PM , Anonymous Katie687 said...

Very funny and sweet. I don't miss the driving practice at all.

 
At February 1, 2012 at 8:59 AM , Anonymous jaum said...

Life's challanges... followed by grey hair... followed by colorback...

 

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