The lad takes the wheel
Ryan Summerlin July 10, 2013
Warning to the residents of Eagle County: The Teenager has his driver’s permit. Beware on the road!
Can you believe it? My first-born is now driving.
On the day his dad took him to Frisco to the DMV to take the test, we were discussing the logistics when I found myself breaking into nervous giggles.
“I can’t believe he’s going to be driving!”
The Man Formerly Known As My Husband was right there with me. He said, shaking his head in disbelief, “I know! We spent 15 years protecting him and keeping him safe, and now we’re going to put him behind the wheel of a car.”
His dad is his primary driving coach. I have told The Teenager repeatedly, “Drive like your dad, not like me. Your dad drives like an old man. Always has. That’s a good thing.”
Fortunately, the boy has borne witness to a couple of my recent speeding tickets, so he knows what I’m talking about. It was generally agreed upon that he was not going to get behind the wheel with me until he reached a certain level of skill, until the basics had been covered, and he was able to drive from point A to point B without his mother screaming: “Oh for the love of God! Watch out! Pull over! Stop!”
He’s been on the road for several weeks with his dad, so last weekend we got the green light for him to get behind the wheel of my car. As we made our way into the Avon roundabouts, I had a very vivid flashback.
I remembered learning to drive with my dad on the road that led out to Horsfall Beach near my home. There I was, 15 years old, behind the wheel of a puke green 1968 Oldsmobile, careening down the road because even at low speeds The Boat, as we called it, careened. I found it really hard to stay between the yellow center line and the edge of the road, my hands sweating from gripping the wheel, my heart beating so hard I could hear it when the occasional oncoming car appeared to be headed right at me.
A few years ago, I drove down that road again. Even in a substantially smaller car, the road seemed extremely narrow. It’s barely two lanes and there’s no shoulder at all before it drops off into sand and scrub. No wonder I felt like I couldn’t stay in the lane! But it did make me very conscious of staying on my side of the road. To this day I don’t veer over the centerline. Ever.
We’re going to Oregon in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait to take The Teenager out to beach on that road and see how he does behind the wheel on the skinny ribbon of death. If he can brave the roundabouts, on the Fourth of July weekend no less, I’m sure he’ll do well.
The boy actually is quite a good driver. He is naturally a rule follower, always has been. This was recognized at an early age when in second or third grade, after months of the teachers telling him he didn’t need to get so upset when others broke the rules, they gave up and made him the referee on the playground when his class was playing competitive soccer. And he is detail oriented and notices everything, two skills that are coming into play in a big way as he is behind the wheel.
I think everyone should drive with a padawan at sometime in their adulthood. It is both terrifying and humbling. These fresh new drivers remind us of how we are supposed to be driving.
As I sit with my hand casually clutching the door handle and my toes gripping at the floorboards, instructions and helpful tips come flooding from my mouth. I realize that I have developed some bad driving habits. And when The Teenager corrects these things now with his new knowledge, it fills me awe.
Not only is The Teenager driving now, he also started his first job this summer at a bike shop. I stopped by to drop something off to him the other day and had to wait for him to finish helping some customers, so I had a chance to sit back and watch him work.
He was so friendly and outgoing, hustling around to get the family on their way, confidently talking with the adults, gently putting a helmet on a little boy in the trailer behind his dad’s bike, coming up with suggestions to help one of the girls conquer her fear of the hand brakes.
His boss told me what a great job he’s doing and how much they like having him working there. Seeing him in action made me almost burst with pride.
As parents, our whole goal is to raise good humans to put out into the world.
We spend a lot of time wondering if we’re doing it right, hoping we haven’t messed it up, wishing for good things for them and trying to ward of danger and evil.
Standing in that store, I realized my boy is nearly grown up, and I’m so proud of the young man he has become. He is smart and funny, kind and respectful, confident and independent. He has a strong work ethic, with a desire to do the right thing.
I suddenly had validation that in spite of all the mistakes I know we’ve made along the way, his dad and I have done something right. Our baby is becoming a good man.
Linda Stamper Boyne, of Edwards, can be contacted through email@example.com.
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