In addition to graduating high school this month, Springoff the Fifth also passed her driver’s test. She can’t get her license yet – state law requires that she have a learner’s permit for a year or until she turns 18 – but I survived teaching her to drive. Now for Springoff the Fourth.
He’s 23, but didn’t get his driver’s license in high school because … he was busy with other things. He thought he’d get it in the Marine Corps, but he was sent home with a medical discharge after an injury in basic training. He could ride the city bus to college for his first year, so he didn’t need a driver’s license. Then they canceled that route, but he found a carpool in the area. So with one thing and another, he’s 23 and just now about to learn to drive.
On the one hand that may be a good thing. Teenage boys aren’t the best drivers in the world, precisely because most of them think they are the best drivers in the world. He won’t have that problem. In fact, he’s afraid to learn, and that’s a probably better for young drivers. On the other hand, it will be nice when he doesn’t need rides, and it would be greener for him to drive himself to his carpool – or to university when he has no carpool – than for me to make a round trip each time. So with his younger sister having passed her driving test, he finally took the online learner’s permit course.
He passed, so now it’s time to get the permit. Which means teaching another Springoff how to drive. Where “On the road is better, please.”
Springoff the Fifth’s very first drive, after she got her learner’s permit, was late at night coming home from a band event. I didn’t know at the time that state law forbade her from driving after dark for the first three months of her learner’s permit, and if she did, she didn’t say so.
“You wanna drive home?” I asked.
“Umm … really?” she replied. “Err … okay. I guess. I think. Sure. Maybe.”
She actually did well, except for that “on the road” part. She was trying, but she hadn’t yet learned to judge where the car fit around her in space. And like most new drivers, she tended to look too close to the car, making her over-steer. Fortunately it was late at night, and ours was the only car on the road. Or mostly on the road.
She was nervous enough as it was, so it was my job to be The Calm One. Whatever I felt, and I felt a lot, I had to keep my voice quiet and controlled and soothing: “You’re doing great. Now press the brake. Excellent. Keep pressing. Until we stop. All the way. As in ‘not moving.’ Very good.”
By the end of that first trip – just 10 minutes – she’d learned to look further down the road and had stopped over-steering. She’d even stopped for a red light, and heard her driver education teacher’s voice and mine reminding her to look both ways when the light turned green … just in case someone else didn’t bother to look at the light at all. We switched places once she got us to the driveway – the garage doesn’t need a back door – but within a few trips she was ready to stable the steed. And did it well.
Herself and I have been quizzing Springoff the Fourth on situational awareness and other basic driving skills as we’ve driven him around. I’m sure he’ll do fine. But if a future Furthermore! involves exploring how to put a back door on a garage, you’ll know I was wrong.