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.
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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.