The Phantom Brake

"Will you back out of the driveway for me?"
"You can do it. Just keep your foot on the brake and go slow."
 
"Um. Where's the brake?"
I'm thinking she means the parking brake. "Right there. You kick it to release it."
"No. Like the regular brake."
Huh?
"That big one in the middle. Keep  your foot on it."
Okay, so maybe having my daughter's first driving experience consist of pulling backwards down a hill out of a driveway with twelve-foot drop off directly behind it and a mailbox to the right and a brick post to the left wasn't the greatest piece of parenting I've ever attempted.
Because shouting STOPSTOPTSTOPSTOPSTOP!!!! doesn't actually help them remember which one is the gas and which one is the brake. Nor can you point frantically to the left as a ditch approaches–as she reminded me, the student driver finds the view out the windshield slightly more critical than the hand motions of a parent.
When I signed her up for Driver's Ed, I remember thinking that the instructor seemed like a really grouchy old lady. 
Now I know why.
At least she gets her own brake pedal and a sign warning everyone else who, exactly, is operating the motor vehicle. Shouldn't one of those STUDENT DRIVER trunk stickers be included in the tuition for the course?
I spent an hour and a half treading the fine line between making my daughter feel like an idiot and speaking up enough to keep the vehicle on the road.  During the straight stretches I told her about my first attempt at driving: I had to sit on my brother's lap because I couldn't work the steering wheel, the gas, the brake and the clutch all at the same time. I assured her that she was doing much better than I did my first time out. 
There were minimal tears and my right leg will likely recover from the strain of trying not to stomp on a phantom brake pedal for 90 minutes. At any rate, nobody died; no mailboxes have been tagged; and the lady with the mutt lived to walk away.
She has her first of six driving tests on Monday. In town. Turning out onto Pioneer Way.
Oh boy.

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11 responses to “The Phantom Brake

  • Freedom Smith

    HILARIOUS!!!!!!! Since I have two girls that are learning to drive soon, I can so relate! I dread the type of driving situations that you described. Mr. does most of the teaching, unless my oldest son is here. He took them to a parking lot and said they did great (so glad I do not know the details!). Once they have learned the basics, I don't have as much trouble riding with them. There are times I close my eyes, but my depth perception is a bit off and I close my eyes sometimes when Mr. is driving….things appear closer to us than they really are, causing me to overreact to being close to the cement wall in the center of the highway and things of that nature. I found that closing my eyes is better than ticking off Mr. Maybe not the best approach to take with my girls that are learning to drive 🙂

  • Ladywise

    I remember teaching my daughter to drive. She had done pretty good in the "automatic" car, but the one being handed down to her had a clutch. She needed to learn to drive it. We lived out in the country with a great big yard, so, thinking we were clever, we gave her a few quick lessons, told her to practice going around the house, and we retired to the living room (leaving the door open so we could keep an eye out). Round and round and round she went. Seemed to be going pretty smooth. I started smelling an odd odor. I asked my husband, "Do you smell that smell?" He sniffed around a minute, then jumped straight up out of his chair! "Oh my God" he screamed! "She's burnt the clutch up!" Needless to say, the "non automatic" car didn't get passed down. I still think she did on purpose because she didn't want that car!

  • Grandma-P

    Dearly loved this post. It brought back memories of me scaring my dad and myself almost to death (literally) when he let me drive on the highway for the first time.

  • P.S.

    Super funny! I felt like I was in the car with you!

  • Waterbaby

    Wait, are you her sole driving teacher? She's not taking drivers' ed in school or such?

  • Kimber

    Oh, she's taking driver's ed. They just have this weird rule that you 1)can't get your permit until you are signed up for driver's ed and 2) you have to take your first driving "test" within something like five days of beginning driver's ed. And if you fail, you have to pay a twenty-five dollar fee and a whole load of other bull that made my eyes glaze over so I really can't say for sure. I just knew I had better at least teach her how to start, stop and turn before she took it.

  • Waterbaby

    Wait, I'm baffled. Isn't driver's ed supposed to be teaching her how to start, stop and turn?!

  • Kimber

    My point exactly! So far they've been in the classroom–first time out in the instructor's car is her first test. I guess they want to make sure parents are involved?

  • Emjay

    LOL – Yes I think every car I've ever been a passenger in has a phantom brake and steering wheel!

  • Louise

    mmm, I remember that STOPSTOPSTOP! from my mother. And that was exactly why I didn't like driving with her… 😉

  • Marie'sMuse

    Where is the farm with five open acres of land – or the beach when the tide is out when you need them? All great places to unleash the new driver! Good Luck! Loved the reality of motherhood in your description. Seems like there are alot of times in our kids lives we wish we could shout "Stop! Stop! Stop!"

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