We are teaching our son how to drive. And I thought having a baby was stressful!
Driving lessons are going slowly. At first, we took him on Sundays to the Corporate Research Center nearby. It’s a large enough multi-building, spread-out office complex that there are a few ways to make large loops that involve getting used to accelerating, slowing, stopping at stop signs, turning left and right, using turn signals, navigating around the occasional bicyclist or pedestrian, and sharing the road with a few other leisurely Sunday drivers.
He was doing great on the loops and was growing bored with them. A couple of weeks ago he expressed interest in branching out and going places with more cars so he can practice adding the wildcard of other drivers to the mix. That day we drove through Virginia Tech campus, and he drove us all the way home, through traffic lights and everything.
Last weekend I suggested we drive over to the high school — the drive he’ll eventually be making every day when he gets his license. We went on a Sunday again, but I had forgotten how many lane changes the drive involved. We hadn’t practiced lane changes on the safe-bubble office complex loops. And there was more traffic than I had anticipated. Our hands were white-knuckles the whole way home, his on the steering wheel, mine clasped tightly in my lap. I wasn’t sure he’d ever want to drive again.
This morning, he got up and asked if I was going anywhere, because if so, he’d love some donuts.
“Uh, no, I’m not going anywhere,” I said. I gestured to my pajamas that I was still wearing. And then I had an idea.
“But if you drive to the donut shop, I’ll buy you donuts.”
He was not expecting this. He weighed his options — were donuts worth the stress of driving practice? After a couple of minutes, he decided yes, donuts are worth it.
So off we went, on another new route, with more cars, more traffic lights, cars going much faster than the speed limit, and a very small, very busy parking lot at the donut shop.
He did fantastic. He used his signals, anticipated what other cars were doing, made his turns safely, and pulled in and out of the small parking lot like he’d done it a thousand times. And at the end of it all, we all got donut rewards.