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Behind the wheel

Behind the wheel Behind the wheel

Brian Wilson

There are various times in life when you are forced to pause and realize “Oh wow, this is really happening.”

Often these moments sneak up on you. Kind of like how August seems to go on forever and then wham, there are school buses on the roads and making a left turn on Hwy 64 between 7:30 and 8 a.m. becomes next to impossible.

In life these moments include things like nervously standing in front of the church as your soon to be wife walks down the aisle, holding your newborn child for the first time, your children’s first day of school and when seemingly moments later you have a death grip on the door handle of your vehicle for your youngest child’s first time out practicing driving.

My son, Alex, passed his written drivers test on Monday morning and got his learner’s permit. He has spent the summer taking the classroom portion of the drivers lessons as an online course including some very 90s-era drivers safety music videos. While the tunes were catchy, I am not sure that they will be breaking into the pop charts anytime in the next century.

My wife and I have also been trying to engage Alex in understanding the rules of the road as we have traveled around this summer. We started with simple things like identifying road signs and discussing why it would be a bad idea to attempt to pass while going up a steep hill or around a blind curve.

I did most of the practice driving with my daughter, Beth, when she was learning to drive in high school. Beth has offered to take Alex out driving with her. Given my children’s combined lack of direction sense, I may need to invest in a GPS tracking device for them before this happens. I have suggested that since my wife is teaching at the high school where Alex is a student then he should be able to get plenty of practice driving her to school each day.

Kim grew visibly pale and started to sweat at this suggestion, but I still think it would be a terrific idea. To which she notes that the original definition of the word terrific is “causing terror.”

One of the things about teaching someone else to drive, is that it serves as a refresher for your own driving skills. We all develop bad habits in driving, from forgetting to signal when changing lanes on a major highway or pausing rather than stopping at stop signs when there is no traffic around.

Ideally, a new driver will start with a clean slate without any of those bad habits. Teaching someone how to drive is a good way of setting the proverbial reset button and doing what we are supposed to be doing while driving and not fiddling with the radio or driving onehanded as you hold an industrial-sized mug of hot coffee in the other.

For now, we are in the cruising around the empty elementary school bus parking lot phase of driving. We’ll see how long it is until we actually head out on the road.

Part of me looks forward to Alex driving, just for not having to sit outside the school waiting for the bus to get back from games or trips. As I get older, the idea of being “in for the night” gets more appealing.

This still won’t prevent me from worrying about him from the moment he leaves the house until the moment he gets back home again. Considering I still worry about his sister anytime I know she is on the road, I don’t see that going away anytime soon. I think that is just part of being a parent.

Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.