I’ve been trying to teach our 14-year-old daughter Emma a few things about driving.
I’m not ready to teach her how to actually drive, but I figure it won’t hurt to give her some pointers in advance of her actually learning to drive.
Emma’s friends Katie and Kelsey are a year older than Emma and are both in the driving part of learning how to drive, so naturally Emma is getting anxious to join them. A few years ago, the idea that Emma was getting close to driving age would have scared me to death. A few years ago, the thought of Emma hopping in a car and driving away would have sent me into a panic. But, as Emma has gotten older and involved in more and more activities, I can’t wait for her to learn to drive. In the past few years I believe I have spent close to 8,959 hours and $593,000 in gas ferrying Emma from one activity to another.
So I’ve begun giving Emma little pointers as I drive her from dance class, to her youth group, to her school activity, to her friends’ houses and back again. Emma usually listens to me when I pass out driving tips, but, after a while, she begins to lose interest. And by “after a while” I mean 30 seconds. I know some of you out there just read that and thought “30 seconds? That’s all?” But I also know that those of you who are currently the parents of a 14-year-old person just read that and thought “Wow, how did you get her pay attention for 30 seconds?”.
Mainly what Emma does when I pass along a driving tip is pretend to listen and then, when I’m finished talking, she asks me what kind of car my wife and I are going to buy her.
“Who says we are?” I say back.
“Daaaaaaaaad!!,” Emma says back to me.
“No seriously, who told you that we are going to buy you a car?” I say.
Emma doesn’t answer my question. Instead she starts listing the sorts of cars she might be interested in driving. After Emma is through running down her list of cars, I tell her that my parents didn’t buy me a car when I was in high school.
“What did you drive?” Emma asks in a horrified voice.
“Our family station wagon,” I say.
“Gross,” Emma says.
I tell Emma that driving the family station wagon wasn’t as gross as she thinks it was. I wasn’t cool; don’t’ get me wrong, but at least I got to drive.
“If I had to drive your car I would die of embarrassment,” Emma tells me.
I tell Emma that I’m sorry to hear that she feels that way.
“So what kind of car are you guys going to buy me?” Emma asks again.
I told Emma that I didn’t get a car until my freshman year in college and that I had to buy it myself.
“What kind of car was it?” Emma asked.
“A 1967 Chevy Impala,” I said.
“Was that a cool car?” Emma asked.
I told Emma that I’m pretty sure that at one time my Chevy Impala was a cool car, but by the time that I bought the car its cool days were long gone. I told Emma that about a month after I bought the car I was driving it back to college when the left front tire fell off.
“That’s awful,” Emma said.
“You’re telling me,” I said.
Emma asked me what happened to my Chevy Impala.
“I think I abandoned it on a country road,” I told Emma.
Emma was quiet for a few minutes as we continued our drive. Then she looked at me and told me she had a question for me. I told Emma to ask away.
“What’s a station wagon?” she asked.
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