2011-10-06 / General Stories

Not Ready to Drive

“ Mom isn’t it time that I learned to drive a car?”

“Drive a car? Didn’t I just get you toilet-trained?”

“That was thirteen years ago, Mom.”

“How time flies.”

While the feeling of finally toilet-training the boy was still a warm fuzzy one, I knew that it was time for yet another rite of passage.

He’d been through the first day of school, lost his first tooth, and had his first bike accident. I’d even given him his first razor in the hopes that someday he’d find the courage to shave his fuzzy little mustache.

But driving? He hadn’t even learned to flush the toilet consistently. I didn’t want to be the one responsible for putting this flighty day-dreamer behind the wheel of a fast- moving vehicle.

I had visions of my two-year old car parked in my neighbors’ pansies because he forgot where we lived and missed our driveway.

Still if I didn’t teach him to drive, he wouldn’t be able to get a job. And if he didn’t have a job, he would live with me forever. And if he lived with me forever, he would eat all my food. Even now, when I go to the cupboard for a snack, I am lucky to find a couple of saltine crackers and a few moldy raisins stuck in the back corner of the bottom shelf. The only reason the human composite bin didn’t see these is because he is too lazy to bend down and look.

This was a convincing argument. I had some tiny conscience problems when I thought about the other drivers on the road, but after some consideration - about three seconds - I thought, “Every man for himself!”

First things first. I had to teach him how to put gas in the car. This was first because I needed gas and didn’t want to get out of my car.

I handed him a debit card and he took it between two fingers as if it was something slimy.

I told him to put it in the slot. He decided that was silly. Holding on to my card in one hand, he proceeded to pick up the pump handle. Then he couldn’t decide how to open my gas tank while he had something in both hands. Rather than put down the pump handle, he stuck the debit card in the slot and screwed open my gas tank.

“You have to put the card in and take it out fast,” I said.

After he had inserted the pump handle into the tank, he turned around and pulled out the card at lightning speed.

“It says error. I’ll try it slower.”

“No, no. Put it in fast AND take it out fast.”

He did it like a Tae Kwon Do move, complete with swooshing sound effects, and ending in a ninja pose.

“It asks for a debit or credit card, Mom.”

“No, it wants to know whether your card is a debit or credit.”

“Oh. Well. what is it?”

“It’s a debit, but push credit.”

“Won’t it know that I’m lying?”

“If it knew, why would it ask?”

“Oh, yeah, right.”

He pushed “ credit” and apparently expected immediate results. What results he was looking for, I don’t know. Impatiently, he pushed “credit” a bazillion times.

“It’s not working,” he said.

“ You only have to push it once.”

He pushed it again - once.

I got out of the car, cancelled the transaction and started the process over. I showed him which gas selection was the cheap one and told him there was never a need for the expensive gas unless he owned a Ferrari.

“That won’t be long,” he said smugly.

I rolled my eyes.

I told him to watch the numbers and stop when it said $30. I even showed him how to prop the handle in the “on” position so he wouldn’t have to hold it the entire time.

When the numbers hit $30, he pulled the handle out of the tank and promptly doused his Crocs with gasoline.

We drove home with the windows down to avoid being asphyxiated.

This is going to be harder than I thought.

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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