Teaching my son part two…turning it off
I recently wrote about teaching my son how to drive. It’s been a few weeks now so I thought I would give an update. First and foremost we haven’t tried to kill each other…yet. I still remind him of the first rule; if he doesn’t do what I say I’ll tell mom. So far that has worked quite well. Actually, he does listen quite well and I’m pleased at that. There’s a line between being his dad and being his driving instructor. So far neither of us has crossed the line. I think there’s mutual respect for the other person.
He’s finished his classroom time now and did very well. There was a lot of the material I knew he had already known from watching me drive and he was able to confirm this, so I made sure I asked other students about that material. I did go to him as often as I would for other questions and he did have wrong answers every now and then. That was pretty typical and I’m glad it actually happened as I didn’t want him to get over confident about driving before physically getting behind the wheel. He still has to prove he can physically handle the vehicle and not just mentally drive. He has to prove it to himself and not just me.
His time behind the wheel wasn’t like his time in class. To this point we’ve covered roughly half of the scheduled in-car time and he’s about where I would expect someone with limited driving time should be. He did tell me driving was harder than he thought. I was hoping he would say that. This was a way to ensure that he took driving seriously. Since it’s not coming as easily as he thought, he’s having to work a little harder than he expected and is slowly getting the results he wants but he also has to work on consistency as every new driver needs to do. As an experienced driver and driving instructor, I know that I can make driving look easy; but we all know it’s not always that easy.
There is a plus to teaching your own kids when you’re a professional driving instructor. Each time you practice with them it’s not just a parent going out to let them practice, it’s also having your driving instructor with you each time they sit behind the wheel. I’ve been able to give him tips and advice each time he drives; whether it’s a lesson or not. I think he realizes this advantage he has compared to other novice drivers and I’m sure he appreciates it. None of his friends get this advantage and I think he’ll get better, sooner rather than later. On the down side, he doesn’t get too much time to ‘just drive’ as he puts it.
The learning curve for me as his co-driver is quite evident. I’m now trying to avoid giving him suggestions and tips throughout the entire time when we’re just practising. He did say to his mom recently that I talk more than she does when she takes him driving. That’s mainly because you can’t erase 25 years of being an instructor overnight. And I also think his mom may be holding her breath at some times. However, that comment from him did make me think.
I’m trying to be a little quieter as he practises and only provide the tips, corrections and direction when it’s absolutely needed. It’s harder than I thought to just be a parent with a teen driving and I think it’s a good thing for me to learn. I’ve always understood how difficult it is for new drivers to grasp the skills necessary to drive smoothly and safely. I’m always patient with my son and that seems to help him. However, I’m still a driving instructor when he’s driving. It can be difficult to “turn it off” when I’m the parent and not the driving instructor. I may be able to turn off the verbal instructions however, mentally, it’s never turned off.