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A lesson in giving driving lessons

Modified: Friday, Aug 30th, 2013

There is a lesson in letting go, when you teach a child to drive. Letting go of common sense, letting go of peace of mind, letting go of sanity.

Of my eight children, five can drive. Actually, five have licenses and varying degrees of skill behind the wheel.

One daughter, who shall remain anonymous, believes she can do anything while driving. This would include applying make-up, eating, texting, and if she were able, even watching television.

I make it a habit not to ride with her, lest I hurt her feelings by constantly asking her to slow down, to watch out, and being generally uptight.

Now, number six child, also a daughter, believes she is ready to learn to drive.

I am not ready.

I am not ready.

I am not ready.

She has driven in slow, small circles around the cemetery. She has driven in slow circles around our block. Now, she thinks she is ready to conquer the actual road.

I, however, am not ready. We attempted our first road trip, to Walmart. It was a terrifying experience.

Coming over the 6th Street overpass, I tried to use my calm yoga-voice.

“Okay, Sweetie. You need to downshift going up this hill, or you won’t make it,” I said.

She totally ignored me.

I tried to breathe deeply, but as we approached the intersection and the red light, she neglected to slow down.

I cautioned her to merge left, not realizing that “merge left” is something experienced drivers understand.

Teenagers have no idea what that means.

When the light turned green I urged, “Slowly creep forward so you can turn when there is a break in the traffic.”

We sat there. I repeated myself.

And we sat there.

Through another red light we sat, with me breathing deeply and my daughter apologizing profusely.

The Walmart parking lot is usually a nightmare, and on this evening, it was no exception. Cars darted between parked semi-trucks, and one truck pulled out without warning.

At last, I reached my limit of patience and barked at her to pull over.

Of course she had done nothing wrong. She has no idea what to do.

I, however, lost my cool and my peace of mind. It is easy to practice mindfulness when the kids are at school and the house is quiet. Being calm and peaceful is much more difficult when you are about to die in the Walmart parking lot.

Driving with a teenager is a learning experience for everyone. As kids, they learn the rules of the road and how to operate an automobile.

As their parents, we get to practice kindness, letting go of fear, and practicing peacefulness in the most stressful of situations. Ultimately, while I am not ready for Samantha to drive, I am thankful for the driving lessons.

Namaste, friends.

Keywords: driving lessons, parents, kids, mindfulness, not ready

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