Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Parenting -

WHAT is it about other par­ents that makes them de­light in fore­warn­ing the par­ents of younger chil­dren of the woes which lie ahead? We’ve barely an­nounced our preg­nancy when they warn us we’ll never sleep again. Ob­serv­ing a two-year-old hav­ing a melt­down will in­spire the com­ment, ‘Imag­ine when he’s a teenager?’

Yet are those teenage years as bad as peo­ple say? Per­son­ally, I’ve not found that to be the case, but, there is a part of rearing teenagers which no one warned me about.

A part of par­ent­ing which quite lit­er­ally ter­ri­fied the life out of me... Teach­ing my chil­dren to drive.

Ten years ago I was clue­less to the trauma ahead when we rang around get­ting quotes to in­sure our el­dest. We thought per­haps they be­lieved she was driv­ing a Rolls Royce with the price they were quot­ing. For a time we won­dered would it be a dis­as­ter if she took the bus for the rest of her life? In the end, we agreed to stop eat­ing and handed her two L plates.

I’d agreed with yer man that my car would be the one most suited for use by the as­pir­ing driver. This was not be­cause his was a swanky, brand new car, but be­cause I feared for his men­tal health if any­thing were to hap­pen to what I’ve long ac­cepted to be his one true love.

Noth­ing in my life to date has ter­ri­fied me as much as sit­ting in the pas­sen­ger seat and hand­ing the car keys to my teenage child

What I didn’t re­alise was that hav­ing cho­sen my car it meant I was au­to­mat­i­cally voted the id­iot of choice to be the co-driver. The one who pro­vided the many hours of un­paid lessons each week sit­ting along­side the learner.

Let me as­sure you that noth­ing in my life to date has ter­ri­fied me as much as sit­ting into the pas­sen­ger seat and hand­ing the car keys to my teenage child. As we drove along real roads with other cars on them, I could not be­lieve that once upon a time I’d thought teach­ing my child to drive would be a time for us to bond.

Here’s a small sam­ple of the bond­ing which has taken place over the course of the three learn­ers I’ve ac­com­pa­nied to date,

“I’ve told you a mil­lion times, you’re let­ting the clutch out too quickly.”

“STOP! That’s a stop sign.”

“Out! Move OUT, we are too close to the wall.”

“Be sure and stay on your own side when we turn this cor­ner. STAY ON YOUR OWN SIDE.”

“At this round­about go as soon as I say go. Okay, go. GO! Too late, don’t go. DON’T GO!” “Speed up.” “Slow down.” As I’ve been driven about, press­ing a non-ex­is­tent brake ev­ery three sec­onds, I’ve also noted some mem­bers of the pub­lic have no idea what an L plate means.

I be­lieve it would be an ex­cel­lent idea if a very clear set of in­struc­tions could be placed on the back of ev­ery learner’s car. They would read:

Please give me a lit­tle ex­tra space be­cause just know­ing you are be­hind

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