Driving each other a little crazy

driving_with_jack_2Jack came home with his learner’s permit last night and drove us to dinner.

That sounds so nonchalant. My kid drove. With all of us in the car. At the same time.

I took a few pictures and then passed the camera to Mike who took one from the front. Then he passed the phone back to me and I hunkered down in the back seat, posting the momentous occasion to social media and distracting myself from the need to pitch in on the instruction.

Colin didn’t withhold his opinion, though.

“You’re going so slow,” he said. “Took that turn kind of wide, don’tcha think? Aren’t you going to honk at anyone?”

Pick, pick, pick. It’s their thing. This sort of scenario usually ends up with a wrestling match and escalates into tears and rug burns and time alone to reflect upon whatever started the kerfuffle in the first place.

I shushed Colin while I loaded a cat video someone had posted moments before my own photo and wished fervently that I’d had a drink before getting into the car.

I wasn’t allowed to say anything. And I didn’t. Nor did I get any credit for it either. That probably had something to do with my screaming into my balled up fists when we approached a red light. The one where everyone was stopping except us.

Mike played his role well, with a monotone, soothing voice.

“Check the bike lane before you turn. You can turn your signal off now. A little more to the center of the lane, please.”

My own dad was the same in our initial driving excursions. Unflappable. We had to deal with the added element of manual transmission in all our cars, so I got to learn how to use a clutch.

We lived on a hill, with a steep, curved driveway for that extra challenge. I learned early on how to successfully employ a parking break while disengaging the clutch, waiting for the accelerator to catch, on a hill. It was awesome.

My mom sucked so much air through her teeth in my early driving days, it’s a wonder she didn’t cause some sort of permanent damage. Dental dry-out or something. A low-grade physical reminder of the perils of putting your kid behind the wheel.

We had fun cars to drive when I was learning. My dad drove a Triumph TR7 convertible, black with red racing stripes. I feel a little bad that now, at the time Jack is learning to drive, all he gets is an eight year-old Prius.

Nothing like being a badass fifteen year-old boy, at the wheel of a giant vagina.

Along the way to dinner, I noticed how unbelievably impatient people could be with someone who is obviously new to this whole driving thing. Where did these people have to be on a Monday night that couldn’t wait for them to drive a full 10 miles per hour under the speed limit?

This observation lead to a whole conversation between Colin and me about the appropriate use of the car horn. No, it’s not okay to use a horn to express frustration. Yes, I do know that they use the car horn far more often in some cities and in some countries than they do here. No, I did not realize I sound a little like a car horn when I yell at you guys in an enclosed space.

At the restaurant we passed Jack’s learner’s permit around, exclaiming on how cute he looked in his photo. That’s when he noticed a typo for the first time.

His gender was listed as Female.

“Maybe you need a haircut,” Colin said.

Our drinks arrived and we toasted to the events of the day.  “To Jack’s new status as a driver,” Mike said.

“And as a woman,” Jack added.


My kids are obviously of an age where forgetting them in a hot car is no longer a problem, but each year an average of 40 children in the US alone die from heat stroke from being accidentally being left in a car. A group of parents has developed an app and approached me about promoting it, and while I really and truly don’t do product reviews and giveaways, I agreed to share it with you because stories like the ones of these kids and their grieving families haunt me every summer.

The app is called Remember the Kids, and is available through iTunes for $1.99. Download it to your phone and leave it running. It uses your phone’s accelerometer to tell when your car has been in “driving mode” and then senses when it goes out of “driving mode.” Once your car has been stopped for over 3 minutes (longer than any car light, etc), it sends a friendly reminder to your phone asking “Did you remember the kids?”

I haven’t tried it yet, but plan on experimenting with it just for curiosity’s sake. This is not an endorsement, nor have I been paid for this announcement, just thought I’d pass the information along to you for a safe and happy summer.

Cheers! Manicmom


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  1. Your son has the same haircut as my son!
    Mine has his learner\’s permit too, but he has never tried to drive anywhere. I keep asking him if he\’d like to drive, but he always says no. I want him to practice and get his \”real\” license more than he does! I can\’t wait to give up some of the chauffeuring and errand-going.

    1. That\’s funny. My son is a little more reluctant to drive than I thought he would be. Over the weekend he had him driving his dad\’s truck for about 30 minutes, until he asked to be done. I\’m counting the days until he can drive himself and his brother to all their activities.

  2. I am still many years away from this experience but it was a fun read…and a good warning to file away for the future. My husband will be doing all the initial driving lessons.
    stopped by from topmommyblogs.com

    1. Thanks! Husbands do come in quite handy. We have another driver coming up in about four years, so maybe by then I\’ll be a little more chill.