Thursday, September 02, 2010

whizzing around familiar corners at unfamiliar angles

My daughter is learning to drive and I'm experiencing the sensation of whizzing around familiar corners at unfamiliar angles.  And I'm trying very hard not to grip the side of the door or jump away from the curb as we get a little close, but as much as one tries not to become one's parents, the traces leak through.  A driving instructor I once had, in Tring, to be precise, liked to slam his clipboard down hard on the dashboard as a not too subtle indication that an emergency stop was required.  But he also had floor pedals.  I love this idea.  I love the alarm of it.  But Minky drives well.  "Keep under 30" I say as the speedometer inches up to 36.  "Don't worry about the bugger behind you." (Can you imagine learning to drive with irate, impatient Los Angeles drivers on all sides?).  "Your hair is fine." "Both hands on the wheel."  I'm a passenger in my own car, driving in streets I've never seen. It's the real estate pornographer's dream, really.  Did you know that Briarcrest, off of Alto Cedro, off of Hazen, nearly connects with the Laurel Canyon streets and has the best view of LA, both east and west as it's on a crest?  Did you know that even though it's a private street, there is a lovely round bottom at the end of the cul-de-sac, like an onion bulb, in which to turn? Did you know that there is a whole network of streets in Westwood, behind Century City which are perfect for learning about stop signs? Did you know that if you drive endlessly up and down your friends' streets, they're bound to see you, even if you don't see them? Did you know that it's called an indicator, not a flicker as I'd like to call it.  Did you know that your voice begins to change into a modified Joyce Grenfell as you instruct? I find myself saying things like "Cars are very capable of killing people, and we don't want that to happen do we?"

There is nothing you can do.  You cannot possibly be a cool parent when teaching your child to drive. It's impossible.  You can show up at school, bring mango boba, ask about 10th grade, discover that the new advisor is widely loved and adored, make lunches, ask them to stop texting for just a little while, try to read the smile that comes across the face when that text comes in, sing along to 102.7 (KIIS-FM) even though you've spent your entire life fighting it and forcing the radio dial back to 89.3 KPCC because you can't get enough of Kai Ryssdal saying " Marketplace" in the style of Ryan Seacrest.  You can help gather the basil for the pesto she's making for supper, agree to buy the polenta for the dish she wants to try, find extra packets of silly bands because the kids are trading them now.  But you can't avoid turning into your mother.

“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.” 

-- Oscar Wilde


Hannah Stoneham said...

this is a wonderfully funny post - thanks so much for sharing - and what a good title!

So Lovely said...

What a lovely post - slow and steady wins the race. That's what my mother would chant as she sat beside me in the car while I was learning to drive. Honestly I think even now I can hear her chanting it as we speed around LA...."its not a race, you know" she will say to me.

Well done to Minky - that's a huge step in her independence. She will always come "home" though because that's where you are. xxxx

LPC said...

Good luck:).

Anonymous said...

I highly look forward to this event. In fact, I'm going to teach my kid how to drive at 8, so (s)he can thrash about a go-kart. Then again, me dad didn't teach me how to drive, hence now I'm the most awesome-est driver. Or not. Thanks for the fun read this morn.

Susan Champlin said...

Oh my god, that's it exactly, exactly, EXACTLY! I cannot stress this enough—that's exactly what I went through on the streets of L.A. with The Child (boba and all!), clutching the door handle JUST like my mother had done—who am I kidding; as she still does, though I be 49. "Seeing the streets at unfamiliar angles"—ha, yes! Seeing the parked cars on the side of the road that you're quite sure you're going to be INSIDE in another few feet... Thank you so much for this brilliant post. I'm right there with you. xo

Miss Whistle said...

@Hannah thank you!
@SoLovely oh how classic -- "It's not a race you know" -- that will be my new motto
@LPC thank you LPC, I know you've been there
@sinosoul Welcome and thank you so much for visiting. I think it's an extremely good idea to start them early. Good luck!
@Susan So glad you can relate. Completely thrilled to get your comment and to feel I'm not entirely alone. Very grateful. xxx