This week my 16 year old son had to be up early to go take the PSAT test. He has his learner’s permit, which means he needs to get 50 hours behind the wheel with an adult before he can get his license. We’ve been trying to get him driving time whenever possible. A certain portion of the driving is supposed to be at night. That morning as I was pouring my coffee and looking out at the dark sky, I commented that he’d be able to get some night driving in, something we hadn’t been able to do yet.

He is a self-confident kid and as we’ve driven together has been less than pleased at my lack of confidence. I have been known to grit my teeth, brace my hand on the dash, and slam on my imaginary brakes. Thankfully things have improved since his first drive with me several months ago. I don’t white-knuckle it quite as often. But still there are moments when I am explaining some finer point of driving, and I can feel the impatience just wafting from him with every huffed out-breath.

When he said, “You’ll have to show me how to turn on the lights,” I assumed he was making a tart comment about my tendency to over-coach when he is behind the wheel.

I laughed and said, “Well, there’s a little more to night driving than that.” In my head I was already making out a list of things we could discuss as we drove.

He looked me in the eye and said, “No. Really, Mom. You’ll have to show me how to turn on the lights.”

Alrighty then.

That I can do.


  1. I remember the first time Quinn came for a visit after he got his driver’s license. We let him take us, as a family, to Walmart in our family vehicle. I tried very hard to stay calm as I sat in the back seat of the the minivan with the little ones. He did great, until he pulled out right in front of a car and we nearly collided. He put on the gas hard and squealed the tires.

    Needless to say, it was a long time before we let him drive us again! 🙂

  2. Hehe… this brought back memories.

    I was 17 and driving on the real road for the first time. I got the privilege of driving home from church, which involved turning right onto a major 8 lane road. As we pulled up to the intersection, mom said, “Now use your turn signal.” “What?” I said panicking slightly. She began repeating “turn signal!” over and over, getting more frantic each time. Finally, I yelled out, “HOW?!” She reached over and did it for me. After the turn was made, she told me (calmly) how the signal worked. It’s funny how the things other than the actual driving are easily forgotten.

  3. Too funny because I’m at the same point you are. Our oldest, 15, just last week got her official restricted license (she’s had her instructional since May). Her driving has much improved since May but let’s face it, she’s still a new driver. Last night she drove herself (w/out a parent) to/from a baby-sitting job. It was very close to home (1/2 mile) and yes, she could have walked but it was dark and cold so we let her go. She did great. Called us when she arrived and when she was leaving. Today she wanted to drive herself to school — she did. It’s a half day so she’ll be home at 11:30. Such big milestones (for all of us). Since she’s the oldest, this is all new territory for us as parents. More than once we’ve heard that “we’re the only parents, blah, blah, blah” because her 3 closest friends have their own car, get to drive everyday, etc. You can fill in the blanks. Ah, yet another joy of parenting.

  4. There is nothing like the fear of sitting in the passenger seat while your child drives. See how quickly I’ve forgotten what it was like rocking a sick little one throught the night.

  5. Hee hee.
    I once asked my dad – who was taking me out to teach me to drive – which pedal was the brake. He thought I was kidding until I drove INTO A TREE.

  6. Very cute! If only the lights was all it took to learn to drive! 😉

  7. Nice … I can totally imagine the scene.


  8. I remember Mum teaching me how to drive a stick in my $100 ’78 Honda civic. As we bunny hopped our way through an empty church parking lot I don’t really remember what I thought, but I know she was pretty calm about it. My kids are blind so I’ll never have this same experience, even though my 16 year old nephew told my son that in 13 years he could drive too. I’m hoping by the time he reaches that age, he’ll have forgotten Brandon’s promise.
    Heather BT

  9. I hate teaching kids to drive. It is crazymaking! But once they do and prove themselves to be decent/good drivers, it is sure a big help! Ya get spoiled, don’t you!? Be safe out there! M

  10. Love your blog!

  11. I remember the first time I got to drive all by myself, about a week after I got my license.
    Dad said I also had to get gas. I pulled up to the pump, and a guy in my Geometry class came out of the building. I didn’t know he worked there.
    He did all the services they did in those days, checked tires and oil, cleaned the windows.

    The gas was 26 cents a gallon, no tips allowed.

    I forgot to look both ways as I pulled back out to the street, and almost caused an accident.

    My tip, don’t have somebody from Geometry class around when driving first trip solo.

  12. One of my favorite stories about driving lessons is at William’s place

    Learning to Drive

  13. Oh, Mary, you’ve described me to a “T”!! My oldest (a daughter)is also a newly-minted driver, and I’ve been white-knuckling it a lot lately! I’m surprised I haven’t put a hole in the floorboards yet. The only difference I see is that mine is driving my 12 passenger van through the streets of Chicago. She’s nice and safe (like a Sherman tank!), but also a lot longer and wider than all the other vehicles. It makes the drive a little more harrowing for me 🙂

  14. When my Dad was teaching me to drive, he used to yell, “Get out of the ditch! Get out of the ditch!” I was so afraid of the oncoming traffic that I was hugging the right side of the road. Of course, he was afraid of the trees coming at him. 😉

  15. One night when driving with my son back from his band concert we spent what seemed like forever going back and forth between having the high beams on and the lights out. When we finally got to where the lights were on without the high beams.