Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When Daddy let me drive

Today's post is part of the One Word Blog Carnival...hop over to Bridget's to read more posts on this weeks word-patience.

I like to think I’m a patient person and I think most people who know me would characterize me as such. It takes a lot to get me upset and I tend to see life’s glass as always half full. My daughter will say however, that I lacked patience when she was learning to drive and she may be more than a little bit right.

"Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you but not in the one ahead." Bill McGlashen

Let me back up and say that my kids did not drive at 16 like most American teenagers. We were living in the UK during their highschool years and they walked into town or rode trains or I drove them around. The roads were narrow, the car parks and spaces scary small, and the insurance costs astronomical. Consequently both of my girls were in college before they had a US license and for that I am grateful.

When Daughter1 started university her American friends could not believe that she didn’t drive or even have a license. Nor did she have a license her sophomore year. How she managed to reach the ripe old age of 20 without a license was beyond comprehension. She lived on campus and had friends with cars and she sometimes didn’t do whatever it was she wanted at that moment because she didn’t have a car at her disposal and it was sometimes a pain but she managed. In fact, we liked to say it helped grow patience. She might not agree.

The summer before Daughter1’s junior year of college we made the executive decision to spend some concentrated time getting her road ready. And making ourselves road ready too because that’s a key component in the process of successfully launching a kid driver. We flew to the states that August, rented a house for two weeks and bought the child without a license a car. Sounds crazy I know but she couldn’t practice on a rental so yeah, we did a few things out of order.

Daughter1 is pure sweetness. She has been easy from day one and has a sense of calm about her that I love and admire. And as I said I have a fairly deep well of patience…husband maybe not so much but he tries and he does love this child to pieces, which goes a long way in making him extra patient with her.

All that to say, holy moly was this process ever awful. The child dug her heels in and the parents dug their heels in and there was yelling and crying and did I mention there was yelling? Daughter2 put her headphones in, closed her eyes and slunk down in the back seat pretending she didn’t know any of us. She said she’d find someone else to teach her to drive when the time came. Where was patience? Well, all I can say is it flew out the window with the first turn of the key.

It’s funny that when I saw the word for this week’s blog carnival the whole ugly learning to drive fiasco was my first thought. And as I’ve been thinking about that nightmare two weeks I recognize a few mistakes in our thinking.

We were all excited about the process at first. We never thought it would be anything less than a couple of weeks of happy driving. Daughter is smart. She’s coordinated. She did take a few lessons in England where she had learned to maneuver without difficulty a manual car whose steering wheel sat on the right while driving on the left hand side of the road so how hard could this be? We thought we would be encouraging her with great job! and way to go! while she did exactly as we instructed and in the end she would pass her test with flying colors.

Right. It didn’t start off well and went downhill fast. Thinking back I’m still a little bit amazed (and ashamed) at the speed and depth of my impatience. We were giving instructions and she seemed to be ignoring us. And of course the fact that we were in a moving vehicle contributed to our sense of anxiety but I was surprised at my impatience. And my anger. Because often one leads to the other.

"A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel."

Proverbs 15:18

There’s a bit of wisdom I wish we had tapped into on those hot August days. I allowed someone else to define my behavior. Oh what parent hasn’t had that thought and a feeling of regret to go with it? Actually what person hasn’t had that thought? My ability to feel patience was completely dependent on my daughter behaving exactly as I expected her to behave. She didn’t. If you ask her I’m sure she’ll say I didn’t behave exactly as expected either.

"Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength." Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Most of us have heard it said you should be careful when praying for patience...that when you pray for patience God will throw difficulties your way to help make you more patient. I don’t think that’s quite how He operates. Life is full of big and small challenges for everyone on a fairly regular basis. I don’t think we necessarily learn patience while sitting smack in the middle of difficult, aggravating or just plain annoying situations but I do know that's when we need it. Once I started down the path of impatience it seemed nearly impossible to change direction. But that wasn't so.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….”Galatians 5:22-23

My daughter did pass her driving test. And she forgave me. Her sister passed too one year later...with much cooler tempers and far more encouragement I might add. God in His goodness has given me everything I need to respond to life’s circumstances in a way that honors Him. Why wouldn't I ask for a heaping measure when I need it the most?


  1. Driving lessons...boy does this bring back memories.

  2. Amen! Right on the money...I really enjoyed this post. My parents were fairly low key with my driving experiences (I didn't get my license until I was 18 - just didn't really need it), though I could detect a bit of impatience with my dad from time to time.

  3. I am one who is short on patience more times than not. I might have to bookmark this post for future reference.

  4. Finally I´m back online. Have missed reading your blog.
    Great topic today. I knew I wouldn´t have the patience to teach my daughters, so I stayed out of it. Hubby had to teach them, and once I was pretty sure I would "survive", I let them drive me around... :) They both love to drive now, and I gladly let hubby have all the praise for that! :)

  5. Patience! What a topic, Joyce! And you were so brave and so honest in this post!! I'm the one who taught Daniel to drive enough so that he could take Driver's Ed. at least knowing how to drive somewhat. But, thankfully, he took to driving very quickly and easily. Almost too much so. He's always had a leadfoot! Don't most boys? :-) He's 23 and had two speeding tickets so I guess that isn't too bad.
    His father would have had no patience at all in teaching him to drive, so I chose to spare us all alot of grief! :-)

  6. I hated learning to drive it was scary! Driving age in Germany is 18 so hopefully we will be in same boat she will learn in her 20's.

  7. My son is 14 and the idea of teaching him to drive is already testing my patience!

    Thanks for this honest and heartfelt story... I really enjoyed it, Joyce.

  8. Some of the best memories I have are the times I took my two sons (different ages) to a shopping center or church parking lot and started the "driver-learning" process. I did have patience, mostly, although the word I remember using the most was "BRAKE!" While your experience was a little different, I suspect that the time will come when you will all laugh about it. Good post.

  9. Beautiful post...I was very lucky, my dad was a great and VERY patient teacher. I can only hope that I am that way with my kids. I am sure there will be a post...ha ha


  10. http://coalcreekfarm.com/2009/11/drivers-ed-is-not-for-the-weak-of-heart/

    Have you seen this? So funny! Well, it is now. I think when it's my turn to teach my kids I'll be sure to take along the video camera. Just to keep myself accountable! ; )

  11. My oldest is about 10 years from when the current laws will allow her to get a license. I am seriously considering banning driving till my kids are 18 though.

    Also I've been reading some articles lately that show many teens are not as concerned about getting wheels when they turn 16. I think this is a good thing.

  12. Brings back lots of memories of teaching my boys to drive. LBeau knew he didn't have the patience to be the teacher, so it was left to me. Like you, I tend to always see the glass as half full. Somehow we survived it.

  13. Joyce -- loved your post, as always. And... you've won an award. Check it out at my blog: http://thegiesbrechts.blogspot.com/2010/02/sunshine-all-around.html

    Hugs, Catherine

  14. Oh, I don't know how I am going to handle that stage in life.

  15. I was just thinking today that I need to start letting the boys steer a little bit to get the hang of things.

    I was the only one (out of four kids) that wasn't taught by my father how to drive. He was afraid he'd scar me for life with his lack of patience.

    As a result, I'm the only one in my family that can't drive a stick.

  16. I can remember those days well when our girls were learning to drive. I am very patient too, but my husband worked with our girls. My Dad taught me how to drive a stick shift car. We still laugh so hard at the adventures of Daddy teaching me to drive with gears and a clutch. It is a wonder that Dad and I did not suffer from whiplash. Love & blessings from NC!

  17. Okay -- so confession -- Teaching my eldest daughter to ride a bike without training wheels... Awful!!!! I lost my cool. big time.

    I didn't teach her to drive. It became too stressful.

    and if it helps. she was 23 when she finally got her license. She had her learner's for seven years...

    and now, one year later, she can't figure out why she waited so long!

    Great story! Really enjoyed it.



  18. Ha! I'm so glad you shared this Joyce. As I was yelling the other day and Reagan was crying I was trying to tell her that my hollering wasn't personal - it was just because I fear dying. That didn't help.