Dangerous Driving: The Threequel

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I’ve been getting a little twitchy lately.

Just the sound of a car horn has been known to see me squeal like a tiny child, while hearing rubber searing itself to the roadway is enough to make me throw myself to the ground, cover my head with my arms and begin praying in tongues.

So, let’s go with twitchy.

The deal is this: when you’re the stay-at-home dude, you become the person in charge of certain chores, various jobs, occasional death-defying rites of passage. In this case, it means I’m teaching my third son, Hyper Lad, to drive.

I. . . 

. . . 

Sorry about that. Just a little fugue state there. Sometimes the reality of it is a bit too much to bear and my mind just goes. . . away. . . but only for a bit.

The problem isn’t that I’m teaching Hyper Lad to drive. No, the problem is that I’m teaching Hyper Lad to drive after I taught Zippy the Travelin’ Boy to drive, which I did after I taught Sarcasmo to drive. This is my third time at the rodeo. My third time teaching teenage boys, all of who believe they are both invulnerable and omniscient, that they don’t, in fact, know everything and they should, if they want to live, listen to their father as he instructs them on road safety.

Boys, I again remind you. Boys.

If that weren’t bad enough, I have to actually produce at the end of these trials drivers who are solid enough that they won’t immediately endanger anyone that drives within a three-square-mile radius of their car. Which means that, no matter how badly I want to clutch the scardey-cat bar and curl up into a crying ball on the passenger seat sure of my own mortality, I have to stay calm and encouraging and not scream at them every 2.7 seconds to, “brakesbrakesbrakes Brakes Brakes BRAKES BRAKES NOWNOWNOWNOW OHGODWE’REALLGOINGTOD–” or words to that effect.

It is not, in fact, as easy as I make it look.

Especially that last part. Screaming in terror is, as far as I’m concerned, a perfectly natural and justified reaction to the vast majority of time spent in a car with a new driver. But they can’t see your fear. If you let them see just how badly you’re reacting, they will react poorly and begin to doubt their almost-nonexistant skills so much they won’t want to learn to drive or get better.

And, while that outcome might be welcome in the short run, it’s not good over the long run. After all, part of the reason we all had kids was so the spawn would be able to run errands for us at some point in the future.

If we can’t make them into drivers good enough (relatively speaking) to run down to the Harris Teeter for a few heads of broccoli, then what was the point?

Hyper Lad is finishing up his time with the driving school instructor, which only lasts six hours, so now I’m starting to take over. Which means that I’ll have to bring out and dust off the fake smile, which is broad enough to cover my silently screaming mouth, and put on the dark glasses, which are dark enough to blot out the terror-wide eyes behind them.

My only hope is that he’s been paying attention to the driving instruction I’ve been giving him for the past several years. See, other than practical experience, the best type of learning is to see the desired behavior modeled for them. So I’ve been giving a running commentary as I drive, talking about when I put on turn signals and why I’m slowing down when approaching a green light that’s been green for a while and stuff like that.

Careful driving has been my watchword for the past seven years, in fact, since I’ve had to do the same for Hyper Lad’s older brothers. I’m hoping that the third time is the charm.

Of course, it probably doesn’t help much that I only just now realized there’s a DVD player in the back seat of the minivan. I wondered why Hyper Lad had been so quiet. I thought he was enthralled by my excellent driving and not by Spongebob.

As Sgt. Murtaugh almost said, “I’m getting too old for this stuff.”