Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Parenting - TRIC KEAR­NEY

AFEW weeks ago, I was given the op­por­tu­nity to re­live what it was like for men years ago who had to pace out­side de­liv­ery suites await­ing the birth of their ba­bies.

I was in the driv­ing test cen­tre, wait­ing to find out if we had a pass or fail. It was agony.

I’ve had other chil­dren sit their test and it didn’t overly stress me.

How­ever, this young driver told me times have changed, be­moan­ing the fact we didn’t live in an­other county where the pass rate was higher.

The test was ap­plied for when she could barely drive. Fi­nally, al­most five months later we got a date. It was to be a Mon­day at 9.15 am.

My heart sank a lit­tle. Not ex­actly the qui­etest time on the roads. And what if it was rain­ing?

The panic be­gan. Ev­ery spare min- ute was spent driv­ing around test routes in a part of Cork I’m not overly fa­mil­iar with.

“Here Mum, I’ve down­loaded most of the routes for you.”

“Oh great,” I said squint­ing at the tiny maps she handed me. “Why do you pass so many hospi­tals?”

“That isn’t ‘H’ for hos­pi­tal. It where we stop to do a hill start.”

I laughed heartily at my mis­take al­though yer one was less amused. We set off, as I tried to fig­ure out if the map was the right way up.

It’s very dif­fi­cult to look at what a driver is do­ing, brake with your fake brake ev­ery few min­utes and fol­low a map

“Left at the next junc­tion,” I said, set­tling back. “LEFT,” I roared as yer one in­di­cated right.

“Are you sure Mum? We never go left?”

“Oh did I say left? I meant right. Carry on.”

I could tell by the set of her jaw she was not im­pressed. We car­ried on turn­ing this way and that, but hon­estly, it’s very dif­fi­cult to look at what a driver is do­ing, brake with your fake brake ev­ery few min­utes and fol­low a map.

“Are you sure this is a test route,” yer one asked.

“Yes, take the next right,” I said, as we passed a large in­dus­trial es­tate and not the park I was ex­pect­ing.

“Mum! Did you just turn the map up­side down?”

“No, of course not. Take the next right.” I fig­ured if we kept tak­ing right turns we’d even­tu­ally make our way back.

“Are you sure? We seem to be tak­ing a lot of right turns?”

“Maybe this is the right turn test­ing route,” I said.

And so it con­tin­ued for weeks. Ev­ery time I’d find my­self with a mo­ment to spare, yer one would ap­pear jan­gling the car keys.

Fi­nally, it was the day be­fore. Time for the car’s makeover. It was hoovered, air fresh­ener sprayed, and all checks done. Ex­cept, when I say “all checks” I mean ev­ery­thing but the lights. At 9pm I remembered one had blown the pre­vi­ous week.

Yer one roared, I died a lit­tle and yer man in­sisted we’d get away with it.

Not will­ing to risk it, we found a garage with the right bulb. I un­screwed a num­ber of likely look­ing fit­tings, only to screw them back in when the gen­tle­man on YouTube told us they’d noth­ing to do with lights.

Fi­nally, one and a half hours later, we cel­e­brated, all lights were work­ing beau­ti­fully. The fol­low­ing morn­ing, nerves in tat­ters, I took my place in the wait­ing room with two other par­ents. The time ticked by slower than I thought possible. Their daugh­ters re­turned. No sign of mine. I checked my phone for fear I’d missed the text telling me of the ac­ci­dent that was keep­ing her. Phew, no mes­sage. Fi­nally, she ap­peared. “Passed,” she smiled. “Won­der­ful,” I said, weak at the knees. “Hold on to the car keys. I pre­sume you want to drive?” She looked at me as if I were cracked. “You must be jok­ing!”

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