How To Teach Your Kid To Drive. Old School Style

One morning, during a spring school holiday, my father walked into my bedroom while I was still sleeping, tossed a shirt onto my head and told me to get my arse out of bed and get ready to leave the house in fifteen minutes because he had plans for me.

I remember having just enough time to jump into the shower and get dressed and jump into his truck while moaning about the fact my hair was still wet and I wasn't wearing any makeup and I was hungry and oh God Dad, where are you taking me?

He never did tell me where our destination was; instead preferring to ignore my questions and yammer on about how one drives a stick shift. He prattled on and explained the basic mechanics of how a standard engine works and demonstrated shifting gears and braking for over an hour until I realized he was taking me to his best friend's house out in the country.

The house where Boo lived.

When I realized I was being chauffeured to the place where a hot teenaged boy lived while I was wearing a sloppy green sweater and my hair had dried into a natural frizzy state I was less interested in listening to instructions on how to operate a vehicle and more panicked about how to make myself presentable given the lack of a hair brush, make up and cute clothes at my disposal.

Priorities. I had them.

Instead of pulling into Boo's family driveway, he drove into their hay field and parked the truck upon a hill and then got out of the truck.

Realizing my father was about to let me drive, I suddenly forgot about cute boys and eagerly slid into the driver's seat and waited for my father to get into the passenger seat to begin my very first driver's lesson.

He never did. He turned his back on his truck and me and started lumbering to the house where Boo's father was watching from the window.

Dumbstruck, I rolled down the window and yelled after him, "Wait! Aren't you going to teach me how to drive?"

My dad turned around and hollered back, "I just spent the last hour teaching you how to drive. If you were too dumb to pay attention it's your own damn fault. You'll figure it out. Don't hit anything." And then he strolled (while laughing) out of site and into the house where he and my future father-in-law laughed their arses off at my flummoxed attempts to start a stick shift with virtually no knowledge.

This shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did seeing as how my father decided to teach me to swim. His brother and him took my brother Stretch and I out to go fishing, and once we were in the boat they tied ropes around both my brother and I and tossed us into the lake. Every time we started to sink they'd haul us up by the rope for us to sputter for air and then tell us to figure it out.

Eventually we did. After swallowing darn near half the lake.

Parenting old school style, before laws and shit.

Needless to say, sitting in that truck, trying to get it to start was not something I'll ever forget. Nor was the feeling of finally figuring it out and then subsequently bunny hopping all over Boo's dad's hay field. I was triumphant that afternoon.

That was also the day Boo's and my romance started. But that's a story for another day.

I eventually learned to drive off the hayfield and on actual roads but it had less to do with my father and more to do with Boo, his brother and my big brother, all taking me under their wings and teaching me the skills I needed to attempt to get my driver's license. Something I was in no real hurry to do.

I lived in the city, had public transportation and taxicabs at my disposal, plus a plethora of friends who were all happily willing to squire my arse around. The idea of having to get both a learners permit then a driver's license was not one that thrilled me. So I put it off. And off. And off.

It wasn't until I was 18 that I decided to get my learner's permit to drive. Only because I needed official identification to get into the bar. I then put off getting my driver's license until I was 19 and only then did I bother because my boss told me I wouldn't be promoted with out a license to drive.

Well, that and the fact I really, really wanted to be able to see Boo whenever I wanted to. Young love is a great motivator.

My daughter, however, is not like me. She harbors no fear of driving, feels no anxiety about it and as such, spent all of last summer studying the driver's training manual so that on her 14th birthday she could take her learner's permit test.

Of course she passed.

And of course I wouldn't let her drive.

Because she's fourteen and I don't have a death wish to die beside her in the passenger seat as she drives us off the road.

Instead, I passed that responsibility on to her father, so that one day, she too could have the curious memory of how her daddy tried to teach her to drive. The only problem with this is, her father is never home. Now my daughter is closing in on fifteen, whining every chance she gets about how all the other kids with their learners get to drive with their parents, Mom you are such a big meanie and oh God, my life is so unfair.

(And yes, my daughter will actually be taking certified driver's training lessons nearer to her 16th birthday, just as I did when I finally decided to get my license, but this does not appease a 14 year old who holds a permit to get behind the wheel.)

So in a moment of sheer craziness, I walked into my daughter's room and told her to get her arse out to the car in fifteen minutes because we had places to be.

She bitched to me that she wasn't ready to go anywhere, her hair wasn't combed, she didn't have any make up on and where are we going and I ignored her and explained how standard engine worked and how one shifts gears and stops and avoids bunny hopping and back sliding down a hill.

And then I pulled into her grandmother's hayfield, where 20 years ago I once sat and tossed her the keys.

My knees were actually shaking and a million butterflies threatened to eat through my stomach lining as I watched her slid into the driver's seat very excitedly and then I turned around and walked away.

"Wait Mom! Where are you going? Aren't you going to teach me to drive?" she called.

"I just did. You'll figure it out. Don't hit any trees." I called back as I walked to the house, towards my past, my present and her future.

She survived. As did the trees. As I did. Once more.

The beginning of her future as my own personal chauffeur. Payback is a mother's right.