Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Driving Lesson


Grace slid into the driver’s seat and I sat, uneasily, next to her on the passenger side.  On the previous two Sunday mornings, her mom had taken Grace for her first driving lessons in the grocery store parking lot. But now, it was my job to take her for her first “on the road” lesson.

I had assumed that her mom would have continued the lessons since she is an “in charge” kind of person and was a very involved parent. Vicky was self assured and confident in everything she did; but, it turned out, she was nervous about her baby driving on the road.  But Grace shouldn’t have felt badly, her mom didn’t like my driving either. 

I chose another Sunday morning for Grace’s lesson, hoping that there would be little traffic on the road.  Things went well for the first few blocks. We turned out of the driveway and headed north a few blocks.  She turned left and drove a couple more blocks.   

As we proceeded down the street, I noticed that there were several cars stopped ahead of us at the next intersection.  Grace didn’t slow down.  Thinking I should not overreact, I said calmly: ‘You need to slow down honey.” She hit the brakes suddenly and let out a long sigh.

I used this opportunity to explain that she needed to anticipate what was happening on the road ahead to avoid having to make sudden stops. Grace responded:  “Well, if you’re going to be all over me like that, this driving lesson thing isn’t going to work.”

I was a little surprised by her reaction, although I shouldn’t have been.  She always knew just what to say to send me over the edge.  In a huff, I threatened, “Yeah, maybe this isn’t going to work. If you can’t listen to me, we’re going to have to get you a private instructor.”  To which, she uttered her classic comeback:  “Whatever.”
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I wrote this for the Week 109 Trifecta Writing Challenge where we are to write a 33-333 word composition using the word, “whatever”, in the context of indicating that something which is said or done is not important.

I’m not sure whether my entry technically meets the third definition of “whatever”, as an adverb, since it is not modifying a verb, an adjective or another adverb. I’ve used this word in the now colloquial single word sentence, which is how many people, especially teenagers, actually speak. If I had used this word in the traditional way, in a full sentence, it would have been stated as “Whatever you want.”, which, I believe would qualify as an adverb.  

Your comments are appreciated.   

19 comments:

  1. Teens are prickly enough beasts, but teaching them to drive! Oh dear Lord! There was a scenario so much like this with my daughter. Enough to make me want to drink (after driving!) ;) Well done, lum!!

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    1. Thanks Valerie. Grace wasn't a "terrible teen", just headstrong. :)

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  2. I remember this soooooo well! Yes, anticipate the stop well before the sign, drive defensively, etc., etc.. Lots of tense times and exasperating moments but, hey, we're in the drivers seat (hee hee). Without us to go along for practice, there is no practice (I remember reminding them of this). Love the "mom didn’t like my driving either". My husband and I aren't completely fond of the way the other drives (too slow and too fast, respectively). This is a super fun and relatable post, lum.

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    1. Thanks Gina. I thought I would dredge up memories. Loved your piece.

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  3. I've been the driving instructor for both of my kids, but I had to teach them how to drive with a stick shift. I have great empathy for every parent who helps teach their kids how to drive.

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    1. Thanks Tara. I learned to drive a stick shift when my father pointed to an old truck he had and said: "Go drive it."

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  4. My oldest daughter is only seven so, driving lessons are a few years away yet. But, just the same, I am filled with a sense of dread already. You caotured the dynamics of family quite well, Lumdog. Nice to be leaving you a comment. It has been awhile for me. :)

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    1. Thanks Tom. You have much to look forward to! :)

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  5. I think a third party is best best to teach kids to drive. When I learned to drive, driving with my parents in the car left all of us stressed. I think my driver's ed teacher took special meds, though... even when he should've been freaked out, he was way too calm :)

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    1. Thanks Janna. Yeah, it's stressful. We had an instructor for all three kids but we tried to do it ourselves first.

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  6. This reminded me of when my parents taught me how to drive! Even seven years later, my dad complains about my driving- I was going too fast at a whomping 20 mph! Oy!

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    1. Thanks Renada. I learned at age 12 driving in the country. By the time I got on a real road, my dad was pretty cool with me.

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  7. Gosh, I felt this story too and you captured the defensive bravado that comes from fear. Really nicely done :))

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  8. Thanks Jo-Anne, that means a lot because I always try to recall all the gritty details.

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  9. This feels like it really happened. It sure does bring back memories of teaching my kids to drive while I was praying but trying not to look like I was. I love that she's so defensive. That's exactly the way I remember it! Nicely done. You used "whatever" the same way I did. I have not idea if it's right or not.

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  10. The only driving lesson I remember appreciating was the time my Dad took me out to teach me to skid in the snow.
    Otherwise, I may not have voiced it, but I do remember feeling like Grace. Nice story, lumdog!

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  11. As others have said, you captured this experience so well - gritty details were intact here, for sure. It is such a tense thing for everyone involved to learn to drive with a parent.

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  12. Driving can set anyone on edge.
    Great work!

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  13. I think, in most instances, dealing with teens is best left to the professionals.

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