JOPLIN, Mo. —
Our 15-year-old daughter Emma is learning how to drive.
It has been a long process that included Emma taking her learner's permit test, failing it, studying for it, taking it again, failing it again, studying again and finally passing it.
The next part included Emma actually driving.
Step one began with my wife and I telling Emma — for roughly three months — that she needed to drive, followed by Emma saying, “I know. Goooooosssssssh!”
That continued until my wife and I told Emma, who desperately wants a car when she turns 16, that we weren’t going to buy a car for someone who won’t drive it.
Emma has been driving for several weeks now and has been doing a pretty good job. And when I say “been doing a pretty good job” I mean she hasn’t hit anything with a car yet.
On Thursday, I decided the next step would be learning how to put gasoline into the car.
Emma wanted me to drive her to Joplin so she could pick up a few things and look at some sort of expensive sandals called Chacos or Chamales. I’m really not sure what they’re called; I just know that they make me think of Mexican food.
“OK,” I said to Emma, “but I need to get gas before we go, so I’ll teach you how to put gas in the car.”
“Why do I need to know that?” Emma asked.
“Because I’m not going to do it for you,” I said.
The way I see it, even though my wife and I will tell Emma that if she masters the art of driving and if she gets a car that she will be responsible for buying her own gas, I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. And if my wife and I are paying for Emma’s gas, we’re sure not going to pump it for her, too.
It’s a matter of fairness.
When we pulled up to the gas pump, I got out of the car and looked at Emma, who was still sitting in the passenger seat.
“You have to get out of the car to put gas in it,” I said.
“But it’s windy. My hair will get messed up,” Emma said.
“Get out of the car,” I said.
“OK, I will. Gooooooosssssh!” Emma said.
I told Emma which buttons to push on the gas pump and why she needs to push them. Then I showed her how to pick up the handle and put the hose into the gas tank. Then I showed Emma how to squeeze the handle to pump the gas.
“What do those big numbers mean?” Emma asked, pointing to the gas pump.
“That’s how much the gas costs, “ I said.
“NO WAY!” Emma said.
“Way,” I said.
When the tank was full and the pump shut off, I told Emma to pick up the handle and shake it a bit to get the remaining drops of gas into the tank.
“OK,” Emma said, and proceeded to shake the handle while at the same time squeezing it, causing gas to spew out everywhere, including all over Emma.
That made me laugh.
“I hate you,” Emma said.
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Our 15-year-old daughter Emma is learning how to drive.
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