Coun­try Mouse

Fledgling on four wheels

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

ANNA is singing and whistling. I think she’s ner­vous—i cer­tainly am. Sit­ting in the pas­sen­ger seat of the VW Polo, as each of my chil­dren learned to drive, has been a rite of pas­sage for me, if not for them. I think I’m be­com­ing a bet­ter teacher, but per­haps Anna is a more nat­u­ral driver than her broth­ers. She at least ap­pears to lis­ten to some of my ad­vice. I’ve taught my­self to wear a poker face, oc­ca­sion­ally sup­planted by a fixed grin, as we brush a curb. This is no place to show what you’re truly feel­ing. At all times, my right arm hov­ers above the hand­brake like a cow­boy wait­ing for a shootout.

Crit­i­cism, I dis­cov­ered, must only be used as the very last re­sort, per­haps when rolling back into the car be­hind you dur­ing a failed hill start. It’s likely to back­fire badly and a bout of shout­ing will en­sue be­fore it’s proved be­yond any rea­son­able doubt to have been your fault in the first place.

How­ever, driv­ing lessons mean only one thing in the end, es­pe­cially if you live in the coun­try­side: it’s the start of real free­dom for your chil­dren and the first steps to leav­ing the nest. There’s sure to be a mix of emo­tions when those L plates come off for the last time. MH

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