I Thought It Was Obvious
“Which is the gas pedal, and which one’s the brake again?”
Not many questions cast me into deep prayer as quickly as this one, asked by my daughter sitting behind the wheel of the car while I, helpless, sit in the passenger seat, wishing my flimsy seatbelt were a race car harness, and checking to make sure the passenger airbag light is on.
The worst part of that question is the again…because that means this isn’t my daughter’s first time behind the wheel…and she’s still asking which one is the gas?! (Gee, I hope my insurance agent doesn’t read this week’s post!)
People assume because my hubby is a trooper that teaching our girls to drive automatically falls to him. This is not so. Hubby is all about the rules–right and wrong–and patience is not his virtue. Not a good combination for teaching girls to operate a motor vehicle. I, on the other hand, am a teacher. I instruct and encourage…with a painful grin pasted on my face, trying not to push my imaginary brake through the floor as my daughter drives 20 in a 35, which is way too fast!
So the next few weeks will be anxious weeks as Randi prepares to get her license this month—one year after her 16th birthday. She has been my reluctant driver, the child who insists we put on her gravestone “I Told You So.” This thought comforts me as I grip the armrest with one hand and put the other on the dashboard to brace myself.
But recently she has decided she’s ready for a little more independence, and I’m ready to retire my chauffeur’s hat. So off we go down the road.
Teaching my daughters to drive has been enlightening. What strikes me most is how many actions and decisions I make automatically as a driver…things that seem so obvious…but that I have to tell my girls to do.
Driving up a hill for instance. Isn’t it obvious you should accelerate before a hill, so you can get up it without slowing to 17 mph before reaching the top? And it’s so obvious you should slow down for a curve, right? Especially since the recommended speed on the road sign tells you to. And if you look at something in the field on the left, you’re going to drift to the left–obviously–which petrifies me in the passenger seat and the driver in the oncoming lane.
As a momma teaching her child to drive, there is one thing I’m eternally grateful for. I don’t know who to thank for this, but putting rumble strips at the edge of the road is pure genius. When the tires hit the rumble strip and the car vibrates with that obnoxious roar, my girls know they’re too close to the edge, and Mom might be wetting herself, so they better move back into the safe zone.
Teaching my children to drive has made me a more reflective person. After each lesson I reflect on life, how precious is it, how grateful I am to still have one. But during my reflection, I’ve gained a new insight also.
I realized that, much like teaching my daughters to maneuver a 3000 lb. car down a hilly, curvy highway, there are some things in life we can’t assume our kids know…just because it’s obvious to us, the experienced adults.
Check the Mirrors
We have to teach our kids to check their mirrors, to pay attention to the people around them, because they can run into some people and get damaged. This should be an easy one, right? But it’s not. Sometimes they don’t understand the risk in the message “objects in mirror are closer than they appear,” and that those objects are others who can harm their attitude, their choices, their reputation, their future. If our kids don’t check their mirrors, they won’t see that person in their blind spot, the one who will wreck them emotionally. And it seems once the first collision happens, it turns into a demolition derby, leaving dents and dings that can be visible for a long time.
Eyes on the Road
We have to remind our kiddos to keep their eyes on the road and ignore the many distractions that will make them veer off their path. Many diversions–interesting, attractive, tempting, deceiving–can lure their attention if they aren’t carefully guarding themselves. And many of our kids aren’t, because they’re focused on social media, or trying too hard to fit in, or growing up too fast. They need us to remind them who they are…where they’re going…and to follow their GPS (Godly Positioning System), so they can arrive safely to their destination.
Stay Out of the Danger Zone
And then there’s that rumble strip…that line on the edge separating the safe zone from the danger zone. At times it feels like our kids like to drive right on the line, doesn’t it? As if there’s something daring, exhilarating, maybe liberating when the obnoxious rumble warns them, “Too close!” Sometimes it seems like a powerful magnet pulls our kids to the edge, and they can’t resist the magnetic force. When Kelli first learned to drive, she rode the rumble strip A LOT. She would say, “As long as I’m on the rumble strip, at least I know I’m not off the road.” I wonder how often our kids apply that same logic to the choices they make…because the rumble strip isn’t the danger zone–yet.
Legally we can start teaching our kids to drive when they get a permit at 15. But in life we can’t wait until they’re in the middle of heavy traffic to start telling them to check their mirrors, keep their eyes on the road, and stay off the rumble strip. We have to start early, remind them often, and buckle up beside them. This ride is a bumpy one, and we’re gonna get a little whiplash, and we might find ourselves in the ditch once in a while. If so, we have to start the journey again, praying our kids will avoid the area beyond the rumble strip this time.
Right now you might be thinking, “That’s obvious. Everything you said is obvious.”
But let’s not make a mistake and assume our children know the obvious just because we think they should. Or if they know it, we can’t assume our children are doing the obvious just because we’ve told them they should a gazillion times. We have to remember our kiddos don’t think like adults; they don’t have our life experience.
So we must stay buckled in right beside them…even when we’re an unwelcome passenger…to keep reminding them of the obvious–and to make that obnoxious rumble when they get too close to the edge.
Everyone has a story about learning to drive or teaching someone to drive–whether literally or metaphorically. What’s yours?
You are SO excited about the May give-away!
I know this because you told me! One bottle of lavender essential oil from Young Living will belong to YOU if the official drawer of names (which is my hubby) picks your name May 31! For more chances to win…oh…you know this by now…comment, share on Facebook or Twitter, or enter your email to follow us if you haven’t already! And to learn more about essential oils, contact Anna-Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Do not miss this!
After my last post, SOME MOTHERLY ADVICE, one of the moms on the journey shared an excellent idea I just have to pass on! She bought a copy of Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go for each of her children when they started school. At the end of each year, she asks teachers, coaches, and others who influenced her children to write in the books. So throughout the school years, she is gathering wonderful memories and words of encouragement for her children. The best part? Her kids don’t know! Each child will receive her book when she graduates! See why I just had to share?! (CLICK HERE to see this book.)
THANK YOU for checking out The MOM Journey today. I know everyone is crazy busy with spring and the end of the school year…so thank you for spending a few of your precious minutes here!