We all know the feeling of being a personal chauffeur for our kids. We drive them to practice, to friends’ homes, the mall, ball games, and anywhere else they can imagine going. We can’t wait until they were old enough to get their licenses to drive themselves around town and do a few errands for us. But are you really ready to teach your teen to drive? I thought I was. But I wasn’t.
Our eldest turned 15 over the summer. The excitement of her testing for a learner’s permit was the highlight of the summer. I told my husband that I would do all of the driving lessons. I saw it as an opportunity to spend quality time with her, and she would learn from the best driver in the house (lol, hubby would disagree here).
She focused a lot on learning the road signs, lanes, and alcohol levels, and when the day came for her to take the permit test. She aced it! So now what?
That’s right! My mind was like, “Oh, her driving practice will consist of her driving me around to do errands.” WRONG! My nerves were NOT ready!
Teach Your Teen To Drive in an Empty Parking Lot
We headed off to an empty parking lot. A parking lot is a great place to begin. Why? There are no cars around to distract your new driver. If there are any mistakes made, there is plenty of time and room for them to correct without involving any other vehicles.
I pulled into the parking lot, parked the car, turned the radio off, and switched seats.
A quick run-through before putting the medal to the pedal:
- check and adjust the seat to reach the pedals comfortably
- check mirror views and adjust if needed
- ensure all passengers are buckled
- driver buckled
Next was a quick quiz. Hey, as a mom, I needed to ensure my new driver remembered these things.
- blinker vs. windshield wipers
- gas pedal vs. brake
- blinker – which way do you flip it for left turn vs. right turn
- hands position on the steering wheel and which way do you turn the steering wheel to turn left vs. right
Going over these things before we started may sound weird, but trust me! It’s a great reminder for a new driver.
We drove around the parking lot with me giving her instructions to go left or right. But I noticed she never stopped at the intersection of the parking lot aisles. In her mind, no cars were in the parking lot, so there wasn’t a need. She also got me. “Mommy, you don’t stop in an empty parking lot.”
Yes, she got the blank stare, but I backed up and explained how it’s a MUST and, as a new driver, always to follow all traffic rules. We don’t want to get in the habit of rolling through the end of the parking aisle and causing an accident.
Shortly after having this explanation, another car came zooming through the parking lot. No, it wasn’t a setup. And yes, I was NERVOUS the entire time she was behind the wheel.
Time To Drive On The Road
Let me just go ahead and say this. I’ve only been in the car twice with my child since she’s been driving on the road. My nerves aren’t set up for this. Ok, so after practicing in the parking lot a few times, I had her drive home. It’s a straight drive from our house. This should be pretty easy.
We ran through our checklist of pedals, mirrors, blinker vs. wipers, etc. Again. Let’s GO! She pulled out of the parking lot with ease. OK! YES! One step closer to having a personal chauffeur. And then, I nearly lost it.
“WAIT! WHAT?! Girl! Why did you just roll up on that stop sign like that?” My heart was pounding!
“I’m going to need you to stop hugging this right curb. You’re going to damage my tires.” The windshield wipers were turned on instead of the blinker. Oh boy!
“Why are we hitting the brakes so hard?”
“What kind of turn was that? You cannot make that wide of a turn. Slow down a little after turning on your blinker. You do not turn at full speed.”
My entire body was shaking when she pulled into our driveway. My legs were pure jello, and I had the Flintstones brake system going on in the passenger seat. After entering the house, I had to have a moment of silence to get my life together.
Road Driving Makes The Teen Driver Nervous Too
Once everything in my body calmed down, we sat to discuss her first road experience. The first thing our new driver said was she was nervous. Even though there were only a few cars on the road with us, it was a different experience from the parking lot. This statement made me rethink everything I was ready to critique her on.
Teaching kids to drive takes a lot of patience. They will make mistakes, and they are just as nervous as we are about riding with them. When hubby came home that evening, I humbly passed the torch to him.
These two have a standing Saturday driving date. She drives him around town for any errands he may have, or they just cruise around. She even ended up on Interstate 95 one weekend. By mistake, that is, but she handled herself well.
I had to accept that I’m not the right fit for teaching our daughter to drive. She doesn’t get nervous while driving with my husband, and he has better nerves and patience. I have two more kids to give this driving thing a go, so I’m ok with waiting to see how that goes.
Do you have a new driver in your home? How is your experience going?
Sybil is a Navy wife, mother of three tween and teen girls, and owner of a silly little Maltese named Carlos. She’s a graduate of The University of Memphis, where she received her B.B.A. in Logistics and Marketing. Her passion is to empower others in life with her message of Know You Be You Love You®. She enjoys sharing her experiences and advice about life as a freelance content creator. You can also find her being oh-so-real, raw, funny, and random at her site, Mamas and Coffee®. She is also co-creator of Milspouse Conversations™ an online space and monthly in-person meetups to help other military spouses connect, grow, learn, and have those vulnerable conversations we all face in life.
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