Backing Up


“You want me to back it out?????”

“Sure.  There’s nothing in the driveway.  Just go slow and straight.”

I climb in the passenger seat.

Grace throws her bag in the backseat.  Assumes her place behind the stearing wheel and hands me her phone.

“OK.  Start the car Grace. Put it in reverse.”  She says to herself.

“Now let up on the brake and go slow.  Keep your eye on the side mirror.  You are fin on my side.  Just watch that mirror and go slow.”

She lets up on the brake and slowly the car backs out of the garage and into the light of day.  I watch her. Her hands are at 9 and 3 (it used to be 10 and 2, I wonder when “they” changed that and why).  She’s watching the mirror and she glances at the rear view camera.

The car stops.

“Where am I going?  The car is crooked!”  She’s laughs and appeals for help.

“Cut the wheel to the left and let up on the brake.  You can straighten it out.”

As she’s backing out, I’m thinking, “Good thing the Honda isn’t parked back here!”  I keep that thought to myself.

She reaches the end of the driveway.  The car stops again.  She looks left and right and left again. I see evidence of my teaching.  “Always stop at the end of the driveway and look for walkers and dogs and kids.  You never know what you’ll see in the street.”

She continues in reverse, makes it into the street.  Suddenly, whiplash.

“Ohhh.  Sorry!  Sorry!  That was bad.”

I say nothing.  This is a large part of sitting in the passenger seat, while your 16 year old learns to drive – by driving.  Lucky for Grace, I’ve done this before, with her older sister.  I know I need to speak when necessary and I need to let her make those herky jerky stops that give me whiplash.  I need to let her make those wide turns and say “That wasn’t good.”  I need to let her approach a red light and leave about 4 car lengths between our car and the car in front of her.  I need to let her learn.

But let me tell you, I think taking the passenger seat with a newly permitted driver, is one of the most nerve wracking jobs as a parent.

I won’t tell Grace if you won’t?

6 thoughts on “Backing Up”

  1. You are so patient and wise! I remember learning to back out of my parents’ driveway. It was long and curved. On one side was the house and at the end a gigantic tree. My dad was not patient and I was the first. I could picture all of this. Your descriptions were great!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nerve-wracking is right! Oh boy do I remember it well – especially things like trying to park! This slice shows us what a great teacher you are – even in this stressful situation. You know when to let your student (or daughter) “take the wheel” and make their own discoveries (sometimes mistakes, sometimes successes). Isn’t that how we learn best? And p.s., of course I won’t tell!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am not sure I will be able to do it. Even now, with my husband, who I believe to be one the best drivers I know, I tense up when he stops too quickly. There is an extremely patient teacher at the school who offers lessons in the summer and on weekends. That’s who I think we will be going with 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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