I have already helped one of my offspring learn to drive, so now that my daughter Emily is learning, I should be good at it. And I am pretty good, I must say, at some of the things.
Like keeping the left side of my body completely relaxed so as not to communicate anxiety to the student driver while keeping a death grip on the arm rest with my right hand and my foot pressed firmly to the brake pedal I wish was under my right foot.
One thing with which I struggle, however, is finding words at crisis moments. Which is why, when Ian, my oldest, was learning, and we approached an intersection just as we began to hear sirens, and I could not identify the direction from which the sirens were coming until we were halfway through the intersection and I realized a giant red firetruck was heading right for us, my instruction consisted of me raising my hands, closing my eyes and saying, “AHHHHHH!!!!”
Emily has learned this about me, too. She decided to speed up for a yellow light once, not realizing that that particular intersection had a really bad ditch just before it. I set her straight though. As we approached the intersection at speed and subsequently bottomed out, I calmly instructed, at the top of my lungs, “Ditch! Ditch! Ditch! Ditch! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”
With all the driving lessons, she has now started “helping” me when I’m driving. Which was fortunate the other day when I was turning left across an intersection near a college and a student decided she couldn’t wait for the next light and ran into the crosswalk after the light turned red. However, at this point we discovered that Emily has the same problem I do; all she said was “Lady! Lady! Lady! Lady!” And since I couldn’t see said lady, who was positioned exactly where the frame of the car blocked my view, I kept going until Emily found the word, “STOP!”
Today I was backing out of a parking spot, and Emily again spotted something I didn’t – a man walking right behind the car. Somehow, even though her mind still could not find that all-important word, “stop,” it did process the fact that saying “lady” the last time had not been enough to stop me, so this time she yelled, “Human!” And then, apparently thinking I needed clarification, “Human being!”
She later explained, “I think somehow my brain thought that I just needed to describe the thing you were about to hit more accurately. Like, “lady” did not appeal your sense of morality, but if you understood that it was a human being, then you would know it was morally wrong to hit it.”
She must get it from her father’s side.