Teen driving: The Ecstasy

After dinner Thursday I took Lauren out to practice parallel parking.  Her driving test was scheduled for Friday, and she was not yet confident about her ability in that area.  A few earlier attempts to work on parallel parking had not gone well:

“You’re not listening to me.”
“Can’t we do this somewhere else?”
“It’s not that hard.”
“Let’s just go home.”

This time there was none of that.  Lauren and I arrived simultaneously at that sweet spot where her determination to learn and achieve mastery lined up perfectly with my willingness to coach and encourage.  We found a wide street in front of an apartment building where there was little traffic and a Nissan 370Z to park behind.

I got out in case it became necessary to throw my body between our 1991 Previa and the shiny little Nissan.  Lauren practiced pulling up alongside and getting a sense for when front ends were aligned and how long to hold that elusive 45-degree angle.

Five times, fifteen times…  Cars went by, she waved them around.  Pedestrians recognized what we were doing and offered encouraging words.

Twenty-five times.  It was dark.  A couple of police cars drove by.  A window in the apartment building flew open and a woman’s head popped out to inquire about Lauren’s progress.  “Hope she’s got an early appointment, ‘cuz those guys can get pretty crabby by afternoon.  Good luck!”

After thirty-five tries, Lauren had executed several very smooth maneuvers that placed her right next to the curb.  When she did that twice in a row with no coaching from me, we were done.

Lauren’s appointment was the last one scheduled on an 80-degree Friday afternoon.  I had a book to read while waiting during her test but paced up and down the sidewalk instead like some nervous Nellie.

When I opened the car door to greet her, Lauren was all smiles and little beads of perspiration.  “I was so nervous!”  Don’t know why:  she scored 92 out of 100 possible points and is now the very, very proud holder of a Washington Drivers License.

* * * * * * * * * *

Two things to note:

  • I resisted the urge to use the following terms in this post:  “big steps,” “relentless march out of childhood,” and “powerful symbol of independence.”  You’re welcome.
  • Lauren lost points in only two skill areas, one of which was parallel parking.
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