Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Driver's Ed

     Braden was second on the wait list for his school's winter driver's education classes—free and assigned based on lottery draw due to the limited slots in the popular twice per year classes. But then he moved up and got in, hallelujah!
     Amazing to me, he and his cousin Julie aren't all that keen on learning to drive—both because they've gotten used to catching The Bus, while Julie also catches rides with friends. But I felt that for Braden, if he is to live the adventuresome, independent life that I suspect he'll one day crave, driving will be a very worthwhile skill to have. Now's as good a time as any to learn as it's free, he's pretty responsible, and he has the time.
     At an introductory overview meeting that mandated a parent's attendance, Deanne learned that fifty hours of driving outside class (ten hours night time) was “required.” The course would consist of a first half of lectures and a second half of behind-the-wheel driving. I'd decided that I wouldn't take him driving because it (the stress) would kill me, so that he'd have to take private lessons (since Deanne wasn't up to the task, either). Turns out lessons cost (per Braden's research) sixty dollars an hour! I'd earlier told him he'd have to pay for these lessons so that he'd have “skin in the game” and would therefore take them more seriously. But the total cost of $60 x 50 = $3,000 was Yikes! expensive for a little over a week of driving. (Turns out the hourly rate translates to $120,000 per year! For driving?)
     But after I thought some, it occurred to me that it might be alright to teach him some. I might not overstress. It could be a good one-of-the-last-things-we-do-together while he's still at home. Just give him a wide open parking lot and let him go. That's how I'd learned best, alone in the school's band parking lot with a friend's stick shift Dodge Colt. Just going slow, turning, reversing, seeing what would happened if I did this or that and noting the car's reaction until it became an extension of me. I'd just be there to give occasional tips and guidance and let him go.
     So we went. Well, first we did a five minute start-the-car, learn the controls, adjust the seats and mirrors, shift gears, release the handbrake (not in that order) drill in our garage. Then we went to our former church's parking lot where he reversed, drove around in circles, parked, pressed the accelerator and brakes, got the RPMs to hit 750, etc. for an hour. Then the following week we did another hour—same place—where he looped around in both directions to get closer to road-ready since his on-road driving is approaching quick.
     He's slowly (literally) getting the feel and coordination as we crawl along the lot, oversteering less, not pulsing the accelerator so much, holding a steadier pace even on slopes. I taught Deanne to drive (awful strain, stress, and pain) and he's progressing a lot better because of greater instinctive feel. To my surprise (and relief) he hasn't been giddy-excited (like Deanne had initially been), maintaining a sober, thoughtful state throughout. He won't be D.E.'s fastest learner, for sure, but he won't be its slowest, either. My guess is he's about average.
     That suits me fine as I trust he's more responsible than the average D.E. teen. He's just not into showing off, being one of the (reckless) boys, or hopefully, using the car to vent his teen angst. In that regard, he may do a heck of a lot better than his old man did at his age. (I didn't wreck any cars, but I was far from the safest driver.)

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