My son Ben took his drivers test today. He's been "practice driving" all summer and fall in preparation for the test. We were finally able to get him scheduled for today. These past few weeks we've been letting him drive a lot more and with each turn he improved a little. Sure, there were some backwards steps every once in a while, where you wondered whether he'd ever driven a car before. But those were getting less and less as we drew nearer to the test date.
If you've had kids go through the whole experience of drivers training, you know it's not for the faint of heart. The time he blew a stop sign in a residential subdivision was probably the low point, though my voice was not low. It's those moments that you realize how alive you really are. Your heart reminds you quite nicely as it drums and flutters.
Anyways, he passed the test. Not with flying colors, but he passed. He was two points from failing, but he passed. He evidently has issues with "safety checking" (i.e. turning your head and checking your surroundings.) I mean, most kids probably have issues with that. I'm 52 and I might have issues with that. My family is a constant reminder that I am not the quality driver that I think I am. I never knew I was a bad driver until I got married.
I wish I could say that I passed my drivers test the first time I took it. Heck, I wish I could say I passed it the second time I took it. Those one-way streets get you every time. Both times I was a nervous wreck going in. The first time my Mom took me and I failed within the first 30 seconds, literally. It was a test given on a driving course, and I took a right turn (in our stylin' 1977 Plymouth Volare') out of the starting gate and when he told me to take a left, I turned into the oncoming lane of a two way street (which I thought was a one-way street.)
"Pull over, right here please," the tester said.
Never something you want to hear in the first 30 seconds of a test. He then promptly pointed to the car way up the block that was coming in my direction. Ummm, yeah.
The second time I took the test was with my sister Jane. She was barely licensed herself, and ironically enough worked for a long time as a tester for the DMV - special needs group. (i.e. people who flunked more than 3 times. She's got some great stories, many of which I've heard.) I made it quite a bit further on that test, but managed to do the same thing - turning into the wrong lane - that I'd done on the other failed test. This time though I was coming from a one-way to a two-way. Same result.
"Pull over, right here please"
Oh, the humanity. Well, luckily the third time was a charm. My older brother Tom took me that time and I think the best advice he gave me was "Just relax." He knew I was tense and when you are, you tend to make mistakes. Needless to say I passed and the rest is history.
Until I went to take my motorcycle test, that is.
I managed to fail that as well too, much less gracefully than the two auto failures, mind you. I actually dumped the bike during the quick-stop portion. Yep. Busted off a blinker, spilled a little gas out of the tank, everything but the Flight for Life.
"I, uh, take it that this means I fail?" I said to the guy.
"Uh, yeah. Sorry about your blinker."
I rode the bike of shame all the way back home, blinker dangling in the wind, hand signals filling in the gaps. It was another year of riding on a permit before I had the guts to take it again.
So I was ready for whatever results Ben would have given. I had the "I've been there," speech ready to go if needed. Luckily I got the two word text "I passed." I congratulated him and told him I knew he would pass. This may have been a stretch, but I was pulling for him nonetheless.
From here I guess we all just buckle up, give a good safety check to the left and the right, and wait for the insurance premium hikes.