Today we took Andrew out for his first driving lession. It's taken quite a while to get him sufficiently interested in driving to get his drivers permit though both Sonya and I suspect that it wasn't so much a lack of interest as fear. Perhaps I've overdone it a little when pointing out that driving a car is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. Perchance telling him he'd be at the controls of a ton of steel quite capable of killing was over-egging the pudding.
On the other hand, better that than a devil-may-care attitude. I told him nothing more than the truth.
Be that as it may, I found it all somewhat hard to believe. It seemed we had the only teenager in all of North America who didn't want to drive! But what with his father pushing from one side, me pushing from another and Sonya pulling, we finally got him to the learners permit test. He failed the first time. He failed the second time. He barely squeaked past on the third try.
Thus to today. I found myself elected teacher so we used my car. As I pointed out, mine was paid for! Sonya held out for her car and methinks Andrew secretly would have preferred hers. Indeed, now that I think about it, perhaps Sonya had another reason; I've adamantly refused to let Morgan ever drive mine. Perhaps she was worried about ructions later when Morgan finds out. Well, Morgan will just have to face up to harsh reality and the sooner the better.
We took him out to an industrial area with an enormous, mostly empty, carpark. We swapped seats and I held the keys. Poor bastard jumps in to the drivers seat and instantly reaches for the ignition. But nope, that wasn't how it was going to be. First he had to go through the importance of seat position (he's taller than I am) and adjusting mirrors. Ever tried to describe, in words, the correct position for a mirror? We ended up with Sonya standing beside the car and asking him when he could see Mom and when he couldn't.
Preliminaries gone through and Mom safely seated in the rear, he was ready to go. But I was still holding the keys. 'Er, can I have the keys?' he timidly asked. 'Nope, you've forgotten something very important' was my reply. Hmmm, some head scratching as he anxiously rechecks the mirrors and the seat position. Nope, he can't imagine what's holding up the keys this time. He's watching me finger the edge of my seat belt and he still doesn't get it.
Now you have to understand that, as old as I am, I've never driven a car that didn't have seatbelts. Nor have I, so far as I'm aware, ever driven where seatbelts weren't compulsory if fitted. It's so automatic that I don't ever think about it unless I try and drive without fastening the belt; that feels so uncomfortable I can't even reverse a dozen feet without fastening it. I'm not even sure if seatbelts are compulsory in Arizona. But I ain't driving without em, nor are any of my passengers. I remember going through this with Morgan four or five years ago; 'but I trust your driving Rob' she'd protest. 'That's fine', I'd reply. 'But I don't trust my own driving - put the bloody thing on'. I also don't trust anyone else out there on the road. Maybe this is why I've managed thirty five years driving without a serious accident. Maybe not.
And if none of my passengers are driving with me without seatbelts then guess what my feeling is about a brand new driver on his first lesson? Sheepishly he put the belt on and I handed him the keys.
The lesson itself went about as well as can be expected for a first time out. No, he didn't total the car but yes, he swung so wide on turns that I reckon he must have ancestral memories of driving an oxcart! He didn't like getting out on the roads one little bit; there he had to contend with two other cars! But you have to push Andrew or he never tries anything. As I said when he complained that I was making him take too many turns, 'if I didn't you'd drive straight and never make a turn'. He would too! And you can bet we were careful not to overdo it. I can remember my first time on a public road. Nervewracking. At the end of half an hour we pulled over so Sonya and I could have a smoke and Andrew intimated that perhaps this was enough for the first time out. Sonya seemed to think not but I stood up for him; let's not overdo it.
Sonya congratulated me on remaining very calm through the experience. Like I wouldn't. Everyone has to learn, and wide turns, forgetting turn indicators, doing a left from the right hand lane etc are par for the course. There's a reason we chose the industrial car park! I thought he did very well.
I drove us back home via the supermarket; we needed to pick up dinner. Sonya didn't feel like cooking and she suggested a pre-made pizza. I hate pre-made pizza with a passion but the wise husband learns to shut up lest he find himself cooking dinner himself! Thus we grabbed a pizza and, since Andrew was with us, what more natural than to expect him to carry it? 'Keep it flat' I warned, as he showed signs of carrying it like it was a book. Thence to the other end of the supermarket to get some tinned cat treats; Andrew twirling the pizza and basically doing everything imaginable with a pizza short of cooking and eating it; all the time keeping it flat. Of course disaster struck; the box flew open and our dinner shot across the floor, topping side down! How fortunate it was sealed in plastic!
Andrew turned about three shades redder than I've ever seen in my life and ever since then his nickname has been 'Juggling Pizza Boy'. I'll stop ribbing him about it, eventually!
In the end, the pizza wasn't bad!