Santa Maria Sun / Humor
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 23
License to driveFrom diapers to steering wheels
BY ROB KRIDER
When my kids were babies, I couldn’t wait for the day when they would wake up and be able to wipe their own asses. I love being a dad, but time has shown that I’m more of a “let’s go build a go-kart” kind of a dad versus a “let’s play peek-a-boo and then check your diaper for poo” sort of a father. I just wanted the kids to grow up quick so we could do cool stuff like go see monster trucks. Bouncing a drooling baby on my knee was not really my thing. I remember staring at my son when he was about three months old, thinking, “I wish you were old enough to race slot cars with me.”
Careful what you wish for. My kids grew up, and yes, it’s true, I don’t have to deal with spit up, diapers, or Teletubbies anymore, and we do race a fair amount of slot cars at our house. But I found out the hard way that these older kids have new crap I have to deal with. No, it isn’t crap in the literal sense—my kids finally wipe their own rear ends—it’s crap like becoming a full-time taxi driver to my children. My life has become one long road trip to nowhere. I never get more than five miles away from the house, but somehow I drive 100 miles a day all over town, from orthodontist appointments to cheer practice to swim meets, followed by jaunts to the movie theater and trips to the mall.
After chauffeuring the busiest kids in the world for the past few years, I started to wish my son would finally be old enough to get his driver’s license. I want it to be the day I can sit on the couch and send him to the store for stuff we always need at our house, like ketchup, toilet paper, and light bulbs. With that sort of freedom and time, maybe I can start working on a hobby I’ve been putting off for a while: power drinking tequila. And if things ever get out of hand with the tequila taste testing, then my son will be my permanent designated driver. Win-win.
Again, careful what you wish for: My kid just turned 15 1/2 years old and came home with a learner’s permit. That learner’s permit cost me $31, payable to DMV, and commits me to six months of sitting in the front seat, white knuckling the dashboard, while the kid attempts to sideswipe every car in the neighborhood.
Like any loving parent, I want to ensure that my child receives the best possible driver’s training. I want my son to be a safe driver. I just want someone else to be the poor soul taking the time to teach him how to do it. Teaching a kid how to drive may be the most frightening experience in the world.
Day one, hour one of Dad’s school of driver’s training, I took my son to a large, unused parking lot for his first driving lesson. I did this for the safety of other motorists, pedestrians, and small animals. Sure, he is my son, so in my opinion he was handed down driving talent from the gods through his DNA. However, he is also a kid that is 50 percent my wife, whom I love. This means he inherited the idea that the sides of car tires are used to clean curbs and that the brake pedal is an on/off switch. I knew the kid could go either way. When he drove his first few feet, I would find out: Is he a future racecar driver or will he throw me through the windshield with the first application of the brake pedal?
I knew within a quarter of a mile that my son was the worst combination of both his parents. From my side, he drove like a maniac. He got us up to about 40 miles per hour in a parking lot the first time he ever touched an accelerator pedal. His favorite thing to do, I found out suddenly, is to go faster as corners are approaching. We narrowly missed a curb, a shopping cart, a light pole, and a homeless guy collecting cans. I didn’t want to alarm my son during his first lesson, so I suggested calmly to him, “Uh, let’s slow it down a bit,” and that was when his mother’s side surfaced. He slammed on the brakes so hard he threw my body forward, stretching the seatbelt, bruising my shoulder, and giving my neck whiplash. He stopped the car so suddenly I was afraid the airbags might deploy. I sat there, holding my aching neck, thinking, “How will I survive six months of this terror?”
I had a solution. I told his mom it was her to turn to try to teach the boy to drive. I explained to her it would be good for her to bring a fresh viewpoint to our son’s driving lessons. In reality, I was just offloading an hour of fright that I wouldn’t have to endure. I now wish for a time machine. I would gladly watch a 10-hour Teletubby marathon and change baby diapers filled with spinach poo before I would take the boy out for another driving lesson.
So, unwarned, I sent the boy’s mother, my spouse, my love, off to give it a try. I convinced myself that I wasn’t sending her off to die. Maybe my son just needed a different instructor to teach him to use the brake pedal before the corner. My wife and son gave driver’s training a shot. The two of them didn’t even make it out of the driveway. My wife came into the house and flatly informed me, “He’s not ready.”
I said, “I know he isn’t ready. We have to get him ready.”
“No, I don’t think he’s even ready to come out of the womb yet. He’s definitely not ready to drive!”
Every day Rob’s son drives him to the chiropractor for “whiplash” therapy on his neck.