Friday, September 9, 2011

A Division of Labors of Parenting

Apparently, very early on in my parents wedded relationship, they made the deal that each one of them would tackle one of the "tougher" obstacles of parenting. My mom would handle the "birds and the bees" talk while my dad would teach me how to drive.

Unfortunately, I don't remember my first awkward "sex" conversation with my mom. I do, however, remember many other awkward conversations- not her explaining "it" to me, just her giving TMI about anything and everything (not just about sex... about any subject that there can be TMI about). I am a better person for those conversations.

While I don't remember my mom's end of the bargain, I certainly remember my Dad's.

Like most teenagers, I started working toward my learner's permit when I was 15. My parents knew this was on the horizon, so my dad started giving me brief lessons a few months before my 15th birthday. We would go to large empty parking lots, and I learned how to go and stop and go and stop. The key word in that sentence is 'stop.'

The first time I ever got behind of the wheel of a car was at my Uncle's house. My Uncle lives outside of the city in a very secluded, wooded area. My parents and I were hanging out there one Sunday afternoon when my dad offered his first driving lesson. I was really nervous but excitedly accepted, and we took off in his Ford Explorer. He drove down the gravel road leading away from my Uncle's house, to a large field. As he did this- he explained the necessary components to me- the gas, the break, and the wheel. Simple enough.

When we got to the field, we switched seats. I buckled in, adjusted the seat, grabbed the wheel and turned the key. And then I hit the gas. Hard. My dad started telling me to slow down. I completely panicked. Despite the size of the field, the tree line seemed to be coming at us fast. My dad's voice got serious "HIT THE BREAKS, HIT THE BREAKS!" I couldn't. I didn't remember how to. I didn't comprehend that all I had to do was take my foot off of the gas. Any reasoning and experience and life lesson and anything that made sense immediately left my 14 year old skull. I freaked the fuck out. My dad, realizing that the situation was a little out of control (or completely out of control, depending on your perspective... if you were the tree I was about to run into, it is fair to say 'completely'), reached across the console, leaned under the wheel, and slammed his hand on the break. All while emptying his full beer into my lap. We came to an abrupt halt.

I don't remember what happened immediately after, but I am pretty sure it involved a lot of crying. I was doomed. I would never learn how to drive. My dad and I switched seats and rode back to my Uncle's house in silence.

When we walked upstairs to rejoin the party, the rest of the adults took one look at us- me, with red eyes, looking like I peed my pants from my dad's spilt drink, and him- partly laughing, partly panicked, and partly relieved- and knew that my first lesson had not gone well.

I can't insert a mom quote here (because I really don't remember one), but I am certain it went something like "That's why I chose the sex talk."

No comments:

Post a Comment