When I was around 14, I asked my brother if he would teach me to drive and he said absolutely. One day, he shows up at the house and says, get in, we are going to teach you to drive. Man, I was so excited I could barely stand it.
At the time my brother had a big Ford truck that was a stick shift and I thought we were going to some parking lot around the neighborhood. Somehow, all big brothers are cut from the same cloth and this a prime example.
We get on I-40 and head west to the city and I asked him where we are going and he wouldn’t answer. As we approached town, he got off at the Spence Lane exit. Yes, the one that the off-ramp goes uphill and is always full of traffic. Always.
“Get out, you’re driving.” Excuse me? “Get out, you’re driving now. You wanted to learn how, so here you go.” Spence Lane off-ramp. In a truck. With a stick shift. I was grinding those gears so loud I am surprised we didn’t get a noise ordinance ticket. I was on the verge of tears until I got it to go and made it through the red light and took a right turn.
If you have ever gotten off at that exit and turned right, you will know there is another giant hill as you approach Elm Hill Pike. Oh God, please help me here and I will never ask for anything again. By the way, how many times has He heard that line from all of us? That is a story for another time.
Long story short, I made the hill and I never looked back in my driving. I vaguely remember my brother telling me that I will have to teach my kids to drive one day and just do the same thing.
Fast forward nearly 40 years and yes, I am teaching my son how to drive now. I have said some things while he is behind the wheel that would have made Redd Foxx blush. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have said, “Lord, please don’t hit that mailbox!”
Now we stay in the neighborhood near the house and he knows the roads which is of little consolation but it kind of helps. Here is a list of things that I have said, err, yelled, while he is driving:
-“DON’T LOOK AT THE RADIO!” “WHEN A CAR COMES, SLOW DOWN, AND HERE COMES A CAR, SLOW DOWN!” “WHAT DO YOU FEEL LIKE EATING AFTER THIS?” “TWO HANDS ON THE WHEEL, 10-2 OR 9-3, SOMETHING!” “HOW MUCH HOMEWORK DO YOU HAVE?” “KEEP IT BETWEEN THE YELLOW LINES AND THE SIDE OF THE ROAD!’ “LORD, PLEASE DON’T HIT THAT MAILBOX!”
I could go on and on and on. It is frustrating and stressful and I am sure my blood pressure is higher than Willie Nelson during all of it.
Here is another thing though when it is all said and done. I love it. I love being his dad. I love creating a memory with him. Despite all the stress and heartache, when he gets out and says, “Thanks Dad,” every painstaking, gut-wrenching, will I die today feeling, is suddenly not so important.
Now let’s see him conquer Spence Lane in a stick shift. Kidding, I would die in the car if that happened today.