The final stage…
Life is about learning and enjoying. For many of us, learning new things and becoming proficient at them allows us to enjoy them more. This was the case for both my son and I when he was learning to drive. He was learning how to drive safely in a consistent manner and I was learning how to be a parent while he was practising. It wasn’t easy; for both of us. However, good things prevailed.
Many times I’ve said that parents should avoid teaching their kids how to drive. When it came to teaching my son how to drive, I crossed that rule. I didn’t want to put pressure on any of my instructors at Young Drivers of Canada by asking them to teach “the boss’ kid”, so I did it myself. During the lessons I kept it very professional as I would have done with any other student. To his credit, my son treated me like he would have any other instructor. That was a relief because I would have hated to ground him for not listening during his lessons. Maybe make him wash my car each time he didn’t listen to me? I never did that, but it did cross my mind.
The practice time was different as I was learning how to become a co-driver. It was difficult for me, but I continued along trying every time to let him drive and only speak up if absolutely necessary. It worked as the months continued and he drove smoothly and consistently. The only problem he would have was coming into corners a little too quick, but that was something we continued to work on during his practice time.
To give my son the opportunity to do well on his road test, I asked one of my instructors to take him to his test. I’ve had a good pass rate on road tests over the years, but now I tend to just teach lessons to students who would be taking their own family vehicle to their test. I don’t usually go to the testing centre too often anymore as I’m too busy training instructors. The instructor I asked has a good rapport with the examiners, so that was to my son’s advantage. Every now and then you need to work the system. I did.
A couple of weeks before his road test it had snowed slightly. I had taken him out to practice to get used to the road conditions and as he was approaching a turn, I had thought of something that may help him understand how to take the corners. I asked him to think of me holding a fishbowl in front of me and that his turn should not spill the water or the fish. I held my hands out in front of me as if I was holding the fishbowl to give him the visual. It seemed to work as his turns were much smoother and more in control. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box to get your point across to people.
On the day of his road test I was much more nervous than I had ever been in the more than 25 years as a driving instructor. The difference was if he failed I had to live with him. When other students had failed over the years, it wasn’t the same because I don’t live with them. Even when I taught my younger brother to drive, we didn’t live in the same house. My nervousness was unwarranted as my son passed his road test easily. I think my nervousness wasn’t about his lack of ability. It was more about how much I knew he wanted to pass his test. He too said he had never been so nervous about anything else in his life thus far.
One of the things that pleased me during his test was while he was driving along, he noticed a driver backing down his driveway. He spotted this early and was keeping an eye out for him. Once he realized the driver was just going to back out in front of him, he tapped the horn to warn him and that driver stopped. I was so pleased for him to respond like an experienced driver. On his certificate it stated he had 10 hours of lessons. My son laughed and said he had well over 100 lessons from his dad/driving instructor. Smooth.