Driving with a Learner’s Permit

I pulled up to the gym to pick H up from basketball. She had been up until midnight the night before, cramming for two tests that she had that day. Then, after school she had an hour workout with the D1 trainers, lifting weights and sprinting outside, then an hour with the “Dr. Dish” working on her shooting. She was red faced and looked absolutely exhausted.

“Can I drive home?” (She has her permit, and ALWAYS wants to drive home)

“You look so tired, why don’t you just let me drive you.”

“No, I promise, I’m fine.”

So I got out and walked around to the passenger seat. The side that has no brake pedal, even though I stomp on it whenever she’s driving. It drives her crazy. There’s also no steering wheel. It’s a problem when you’re a control freak mom who is trying her hardest to let go a little bit. But nonetheless, I think she needs all the practice she can get, so she drives me around a lot.

Usually I can’t help but coach her through the whole thing.

“Slow down!”
“Pull out a little bit more!”
“Look both ways.”
“Don’t turn so soon.”
“Look out!!!!”

But she actually does fine. She’s very conscientious, remembers all the rules of the road, and if anything, she’s too careful.

So we make the 3 mile drive home. When we turned onto the road 1/2 a mile from our house, I looked down for a minute to check my email. I looked up a few seconds later, and as we went around a curve the car kept going straight.

“H…., H…., H…., WATCH OUT!!!”

And she swerved the car back onto the road, apologizing over and over again. She immediately pulled over and started crying.

“What just happened?”

“I DON’T KNOW”, she sobbed.

We sat there for a few minutes while she calmed down.

“Did you fall asleep?”

“I DON’T KNOW”, she said. “I don’t think so. I just kind of zoned out.”

So in my most gentle, motherly voice, I asked her what she thought could have happened if I hadn’t been there.

“I could have hit a mailbox, or a telephone pole.”

I said, “Or, what about a small child walking down the road?”

And with that, she became absolutely hysterical. We sat there for awhile, and I told her stories-including how I pulled over and took a nap once when I was driving home from UT, until she calmed down enough to tell me that she didn’t want to drive the rest of the way home. We switched places, and drove home in silence.

The good news…She didn’t hit anything (or anyone), and she still wanted to drive the next day.

And most important…I think she’ll think twice about getting behind the wheel when she’s tired.