Monday, November 12, 2012

Learning to Drive

Like many kids who grew up in rural communities in the 1980s, I learned to drive before I turned 16.  My folks, I think, approached the task of teaching me to drive with a mix of trepidation and happiness.  They were nervous about turning me loose on the roads of Tuolumne County, but glad that they wouldn't need to pick me up from after-school practices.  The half-hour trip to town, just to retrieve me from football or baseball practice, made their long days even longer.  By the time I was 16 years old, I'd learned to drive both an automatic (my Mom's car) and a 3-speed manual (my own 1963 Chevy pick-up).  I passed my written exam and driving test on the first try.

Today, I got a first-hand dose of what I must have put my parents through. The girls helped me pick up fence on Shanley Hill this morning.  Since it's about a mile back to the gate (on ranch roads) from where we were working, I told Lara (who will turn 15 next Saturday) that she could drive.  With a mix of apprehension and excitement (on her part as well as mine), she climbed behind the wheel of our truck and moved the seat up so she could reach the pedals.  I'll admit I grew a bit more nervous when she asked which was the brake pedal!  Despite my jitters, she did just fine - and we all made it to the gate in one piece.

In our culture, I think learning to drive is one of the rights of passage that marks the transition from childhood to adulthood.  Watching Lara drive made me proud, sad and nervous - all at the same time.  I can't believe my oldest child is growing up - I miss the little girl.  I'm also so proud of the young lady she's becoming!


  1. That's right, learning to drive is a sign of transition to adulthood. It would be fun to teach your kids how to drive. Apart from that's the culture, it also makes you feel more like a responsible parent. Nowadays, the age, especially for Americans, doesn't matter on when you are going to learn how to drive. If you know that you could reach the pedals then you're good to go. Along with driving lessons are the road ethics, too. I'm sure your daughter learned that as well.

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