Carter is fast approaching her fifteenth birthday. For her that means she gets to take her learners permit test and begin practice driving. For me it means I get to spend the next year nervously in the passenger seat. Carter is a good driver, lord she should be she has been driving at the farm since she was six or seven when she was the size of a small adult and could reach the peddles. But driving on your own property, in fact in vast open spaces, without other crazy drivers coming at you is easy.
As I was driving my regular route to Carter’s school this afternoon to pick her and her friend Paloma up to go to the movies I thought about the traffic I was encountering. There is one terrible intersection where I have to make a left hand turn and every other car at the intersection has the right away over me and the traffic is never ending. Making a left hand turn without the aid of a traffic light is a real test in my patience.
I counted how many left hand turns I had to make on the quick nine-minute trip to school — In total there were six. Now the way I go is not the only possibility, but it certainly is the fastest if you can skillfully make all those left hand turns between speeding cars whizzing past you. Thinking about a new driver, even a good one, having to negotiate those left turns began to make me nervous.
Come the first few weeks of driving I think we will go the less perilous longer routes until Carter can gain the confidence needed. But as soon as I’m comfortable I want her to practice as many left hand traffic filled turns as she can while I am still in the passenger seat for guidance.
Sure a parent can try and smooth things out for their teenager by always finding the all right hand turn ways to go, but at some point life is going to throw you a left hand turn. Better to learn how to handle yourself in difficult situations and practice over and over again so it just does not become such a big deal. This is all easy for me to say now when I still have ten days before the actual driving starts. I wonder what other life lesson situations I can throw Carter into while she is still living at home?