Us: Driving Lessons

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There are a variety of ways our children are similar. That makes sense considering they were raised in the same familial incubator and with the same parental units. But they are also unique in many ways and that was never more evident than when we taught them each to drive. Since William was first, Hope took it upon herself to set some ground rules before he ever turned sixteen. As each of his friends gained driving privileges, she insisted they come by the house and take her on a drive around the neighborhood so she could assess their skills and determine whether we would let William get in the car with them. The first victim of this was a bit surprised at the request but, having grown up around us, decided it would be wise to play the game. He passed his alternative-driving test with ease. Others were not as fortunate but, after a stern word or two from The Instructor, they at least knew the expectations of driving our children around town.

William was also well aware of the expectations and adapted well, a first-born trait that he consistently displayed. I was always in charge of the initial education and we always started in a parking lot, practicing accelerating and stopping, parking and backing out—all the fundamentals before allowing them to drive on the road around live people. He was cautious, nervous, careful and observant as a student and he eventually morphed into a good driver after a slow start. Laura, on the other hand, was none of the above. The hardest part in training her was getting her to not look at you while she talked. For some reason she thought the adage that conversations had more meaning when you made eye contact should be strictly followed, even when driving through a neighborhood. Plus, she has an almost obsessive need to use her hands in order to speak and this caused a problem since the steering wheel is critical in getting the car to stay on the road. We eventually had to demand she not speak if she was behind the wheel. I do not remember William ever crying while learning to drive but tears always come to mind when I recount my time with Laura. She eventually pulled everything together and passed all state and Hope-approved tests to receive her license.

During all of this, Jordan was in the back seat, observing and taking mental notes, accepting the near death experiences with Laura in order to learn. He eventually claimed that we didn't have to worry about him because he would be the best driver of all the kids. Yes, part of this was Jordan being Jordan, talking smack as an art form, but it also is a microcosm of who he is. Since he saw driving as an essential gift of freedom, it was extremely important that he excel and get this part of life under his belt. When he is focused on something, he is a bulldog. The issue was always getting him focused on things that were important but didn't necessarily come up on his personal radar. This was not a concern with learning to drive. He was confident and used all of the lessons of his siblings to know what to avoid as well as what to concentrate on. As is probably not all that uncommon for a third child, he was the easiest to teach.

Through the ensuing years there have been wrecks and tickets and all the other expected sideshows with teenage drivers. Oddly enough, William, Mr. Cautious, has the most wrecks and Jordan the most tickets. Okay, that last part about Jordan isn't that odd. And Laura, true to her gender, has been stopped the most times by law enforcement but has never gotten a ticket. I am not sure what estrogen laced tips Hope taught her when she had Laura in the car but I obviously forgot to teach that to the boys.

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