As my children get in the car, I always say those two words as I back out of the driveway,-SEATBELTS ON? I check all the mirrors and am ever so cautious by looking into the rearview mirror every three seconds. I feel as though I am saving an important document on my computer, as I check for all possible problems in my way. After all, I am carrying some very special cargo.
Now, I must turn the wheel over to my son. I am on child two out of my four that's learning to drive. With the first child, I wanted no part of the training process. However, as their father's work schedule is insane these days, this time, it has become my duty to hone my son's skills.
As I ride shotgun ready to jump across the seat for the brake, as my hands sweat heavily, I must be calm realizing how critical it is to teach him to be a knowledgeable defensive driver.
While we practiced, I admit some funny things happened that I tried not to chuckle openly about, like the time the automatic window wipers came on and he did not know how to turn them off or when he took a little extra wide turn going a little faster than he should have upon entering our street and a neighbor coming the opposite way laughed hysterically as I chewed him out. Or even the time my friend was driving behind us and unbeknownst to her who it was until after the fact told me how her husband was griping because the car was going so slow and as they saw hands frantically waving, they realized a mom was teaching her son to drive, but upon closer examination noticed it was me and my son. My heart dropped as I learned my brother had let him loose in his brand new Mercedes on the highways of Cleveland to make a quick jaunt off to Starbucks.
Aside from all that, I realize the importance of helping him develop confidence so he can be prepared once he is released to the road without supervision. In addition, I drilled into his head that texting, talking on the cell and worrying about the next song on the radio are off limits behind that wheel (not to mention the ramifications of speeding and disregard for the rules of the road)!
I ask you to keep in mind a couple things my Gram taught me as she and my Pap undertook the grueling task of teaching me to drive. They left me with some things to think about that I've never forgotten to this day. They told me to never tailgate or be angered by someone driving too slow or not paying enough attention. Worry about your own driving and be protective. Situations arise. You don't know if it's an elderly person trying to get to the hospital because they think their having a heart attack or perhaps someone is out of sorts because they just received some upsetting news. It could even be a teen simply learning to drive. Always be aware of others while on the road as we are, in reality, handling what could be a very dangerous weapon.
Keep in mind this could be an inexperienced driver for the first time in unfavorable weather conditions or maybe just a bit timid yet. Help keep them safe during their growing experiences.
From me and my precious cargo, please pay attention and proceed with caution!
--Erin M. Dodd