Over the last 17 odd years of parenthood there have been quite a few times I have felt totally out of my depth.
As soon as Eldest popped out (and that’s a kind way of putting it he didn’t really ‘pop’ more sort of extruded in a long and anguished battle of wills that, I cannot lie, felt at times personal) I was out of my depth. We couldn’t work the car seat, I had no idea how to ‘latch him on’, he cried for hours and I was totally unable to work out why.
It slowly dawned on me through my sleep deprived haze that there is no handbook for parenting. I had read books. They all said totally contradictory things. Yes there was no one way to do things and certainly no ‘right way’.
As a natural rule follower, list maker, control freak and fine detailer this was intensely terrifying.
The longer motherhood goes on the more you realise that the roles it involves are myriad and diverse. Some of them fit easily into one’s natural psyche (I for instance never miss a school letter, return a form late or fail to have the right child at the right place at the right time) but others…don’t.
In this last week I have been:
- maths/ English/ biology teacher
- taxi driver
- logistics manager
- cheer leader
- finder of lost treasures
- team manager
- party planner
- butt of jokes
and that probably only scratches the surface. But there is one recent role that I absolutely loath and that is ‘driving instructor’.
Firstly I want to say that the mere fact that that child I extruded the blink of an eye ago can sit behind the steering wheel is unfathomable to me.
But leaving that aside (which I really can’t but that is another blog) being a driving instructor to one’s offspring is frankly terrifying.
I am not a good car passenger. Over the last 17 odd years the amount of driving I have done has been astronomical. I am the main driver now (partially due to my ‘bad passenger’ vibes but also because I do not drink) and as such my ability to tolerate others’ (and here I mean Husband’s) driving is probably somewhere below zero. I am a terrible passenger. I squeak at late braking, I grab the handle above the door on corners, I get stressed and tense and I offer ‘advice’. All of which are intensely annoying.
So when Eldest asks to go out in his car with me to practise my heart literally sinks. Probably how he feels when he hears me say ‘lets have a family board game evening’.
When I learnt to drive my parents never took me out driving. It took me a year of lessons to finally pass. Eldest does not want to wait a year. Frankly neither do we. We need him to take up some of the logistics slack. Leaving aside the eye watering cost.
So although I agree that I should take him out to practise I still do not really want to. It’s scary. He is not a terrible driver. Just not me. So he does things when and how I would not. It takes all my will power not to let out little shrieks of distress when he pulls out into a gap I would not. I breathe in when he passes parked cars. We fall out. I undermine his confidence.
So this morning at 7.10am (I kid you not) we went to the local village car park to practise manoeuvers and I determined not to speak/ shriek/ offer advice/ breathe in.
It went quite well. I think.
I am not sure teenagers really understand what it is like to just have to assume these roles, for which there is no training, which you would never do as an actual job, and for which you are totally ill equipped. No I am absolutely sure they have no idea. And why should they?
Still a little understanding wouldn’t hurt. Or a dual control car.