Monday, 18 January 2016

Life Lessons We're Learning as a Family having a Learner Driver in our Midst

When it comes to parenting, the term learning curve is really nowhere near the money. Something more like the 'never-ending, steeply-inclining straight line of learning' would be more apt.  Perhaps with a few spikes thrown in for various milestone events.  And the funny thing is while those kids think they're the ones having to do all the learning, there's just as much education involved for Mums and Dads who are trying to stay one step ahead.

Toilet-training for me proved to be one of the most challenging, god-forsaken, never-ending, frustrating periods of my parenting 'journey' ... sitting on the floor of a cramped toilet, quietly whistling, encouraging someone to go 'wee-wee'; the seven stops on the way to town, crouching beside the tyre of the car because someone in the backseat calls out 'poo' and realises it's a great trick every 20K; leaving trolleys of groceries stranded in Woolies as we beat our way to the parent room with a small child clutching their nether regions.  

But I'm realising that though toilet training proved frustrating, it was at least not life-threatening  ... enter 'L' plates. Sarah obtained her Learner’s Licence at the beginning of the Christmas school holidays.  Though she'd turned 16 several months earlier, a clever combination of being at boarding school and a few sly mama moments meant we’d postponed the inevitable as long as possible.  Forgetting the paperwork, arriving at the Transport Department just as they closed for the day and “losing” her birth certificate could only be stretched so long. 

It’s been an interesting ‘journey’ for all the family, as one learns the road rules, and the rest of us learn incredible patience and facing our fears.

1.       Check your Blind Spots
In life or on the road, obstacles frequently appear out of nowhere.  You can’t always trust your mirrors, keep a good watch over your shoulder. Except when you’re backing.  Then use your mirrors.  Don’t open the door and hang your upper body completely out with one hand on the wheel whilst looking behind.  Just because Pop does, it isn’t the best way.

2.       Come to a complete stop at STOP Signs. 
They’re big, red and say STOP for a reason.  It isn’t a suggestion. It isn’t an opportunity to send a text or check Facebook.  Similarly, when I say “slow down” it isn’t multiple choice.

3.       Eye-rolling can apparently be sensed in the driver seat.
Likewise, sudden intakes or out-takes of breath, gripping the door handle, or trying to apply pressure to a non-present brake pedal can all be perceived by the learner driver as some form of non-confidence in their abilities.

4.       Learn to Change a Tyre and Back a Trailer.
And change the oil.  "It's the life of a motor", unquote Grandad. You’ll thank me later.  And impress a lot of people that can’t.  We travel a lot of roads without a lot of traffic.  Waiting for a gallant gent to arrive to assist in changing a tyre could mean hours lost.  And it would appear to me that many of the young men of your generation may not be of much assistance anyway.  Word of advice to young men … learn to change a tyre, and don’t ever pass a young girl on the side of the road who’s doing the same.  Chivalry is not dead, or at least shouldn’t be.

5.       Not so Funny Now is it when your Siblings decide to Rumble in the Backseat?
Wasn’t so long ago you were one of them, and did little to heed my pleading to please be quiet, you were making it hard to concentrate on the road. What goes around comes around.
6.       Don’t ever Run out of Fuel.
Check all your gauges all the time.  There are no excuses.  Know your limits.

7.       Amber Lights Really do mean Prepare to Stop
Despite what your father says. Or does. And though we’ve been known to float through a few reddish-amber lights in the fully-loaded Acco, you’ve no excuse in a new Prado with a sensitive braking system.

I’ve roughly calculated that over the next five years, there will be approximately three months when I’m not sitting in the passenger seat to a Learner driver.

Perhaps toilet training wasn't so bad.


  1. Oh this sounds so familiar. :) My son is learning to drive at the moment too. Or should I say he has his learners permit but doesn't really like getting in the car!!
    Good luck x

  2. Bahaha "reddish Amber"😂😂
    Although it's just occurred to me I only have three more years of full control of my own vehicle. The oldest child being the scariest and blondest . The youngest? In his first driving experience AND sent off solo, in front of the bulldozer; dad put it in low range, and sent him off expecting him to idle along in first gear. Got to destination and boy proudly declared he'd got to no 5 gear!! I guess the whole clutch v accelerator comes easier to some!

  3. OH my lordy be........I can so relate to this post............especially that slow down isn't multiple choice........and as those words get louder and stronger when the slowing isn't happening why do I have to be
    goodluck.......feeling your pain........

  4. You brave woman! I have already declared that I shall not be involved in teaching my four how to drive (knowing how awful a learner driver I was....). I once offered to take a friend out driving when she was a learner and I have not recovered from the trauma yet. My oldest has two years left to wait, they need to be 17 years old here. Have a lovely and accident free week. x

  5. This made me chuckle. Eight years on since my lot passed their test, I'd much rather be driven by any of them instead of their father. They all used to complain that I was a much more nervous passenger than their driving instructors, which was of course true, because I only had an imaginary brake and not dual controls. I must have almost worn away the floor mat on the passenger side.

  6. Holy crap! That's me at the end of this year.
    Brilliant post, I'm bookmarking it to read again in November.
    Our Indi has been driving around the farm for years but real life roads seem life a whole new world.
    Good luck to you guys. Oh and I wouldn't wanna go back to toilet training for anything. x

  7. Yep, yep and yep!!
    We're onto teaching our 4th child to drive, so relate to you working out the months you won't be instructing. I reckon I should qualify for driving instructor status. One thing with living where you do it won't take much to tally up the hours required.



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