Jesus Take the Wheel

I am haunted by memories, some long and tortuous, some brief flashes, and some that make me smile only because they are long in the past. These memories are regarding new drivers. 

Born a back seat driver, my son has been advising others on their driving techniques since the age of four. Now at fifteen years of age, he has eleven years of experience as a driving know it all. The day I have dreaded for years has arrived. He has in hand his driving learners permit. His first driving lesson, our first outing together lasted all of ten minutes. I ended the lesson with: “that’s it, pull over”. 

My first time in a car with an inexperienced driver was with my baby brother behind the wheel. He was also fifteen years old. Learning to drive in the city traffic of Chicago can be a challenge, but we all did it. Stopped in the middle of a busy intersection with the left turn signal on, my baby brother patiently waited for the exact perfect moment to make that left turn. There was no arrow, so this was purely a judgement call. His judgement may have been impaired by the fact that my mom, who never voiced an opinion, was in the right front seat, and my sister and I who voiced many opinions, were in the back seats discussing the odds that we’d make it to our destination alive. 

With every break in traffic, my sister and I would lean forward, as if to will the car into motion, but it didn’t move. He kept missing gaps in traffic, and because traffic was building behind us, we felt we had to comment—for the greater good: “You should have gone.” “Why didn’t you go?” “That was plenty of time to turn.” “What are you waiting for?” “You can’t sit here all day.”…

As you may have predicted, he finally went for it, sadly when there was not a break in traffic. He accelerated— punched it. My sister and I let out perfectly harmonized ear splitting screams as the car we were about to collide with slammed on its breaks, slowing enough to allow us to clear the intersection and survive the left turn unscathed. 

My oldest child, the daughter who broke my driving teacher spirit, had a habit of screaming while driving. If there were pedestrians anywhere in the vicinity, even on the other side of a four lane street, she would look at them and scream “I’m going to hit them!” Where ever she looked, the car would go. It took a long time for her to understand that when driving, one should look where they want to go, and not at the people on the other side of the street whom they don’t want to hit. Once she mastered driving an automatic, I had the pleasure of teaching this same child to drive a stick shift. One new transmission later, and two of my nine lives spent, she is now an excellent driver who gets “cool points” from her friends for knowing how to drive a stick, a rare skill in these parts.

My middle child wasn’t in a hurry to learn how to drive, so the drivers education program at the high school broke her in. The only unsettling memory I have of teaching her to drive was during heavy rush hour traffic. She needed to change lanes in order to make a right turn but wasn’t aggressive enough, and no one would let her in. I think we circled the globe in that same lane waiting for traffic to dissipate.

Back to my son, the would be front seat driver. I look forward to the day when I can come up with a brief quip about his learning to become a great driver, but for now all I can do is anticipate this afternoons lesson as I consider anti-anxiety medication. 


The Daily Post, February 2, 2016, Daily Prompt: This Is Your Song~ Take a line from a song that you love or connect with. Turn that line into the title of your post.<a href=””>This Is Your Song</a>

15 thoughts on “Jesus Take the Wheel

  1. Whatever happened to Driver’s Ed classes in high school? Mr. Flanagan taught me to drive, in a car that had two sets of brake pedals. I’ve ridden with people who have licenses that I wish had Mr. Flanagan’s car. I would surely have used the second brake pedal and told them “that’s it, pull over.” Wonderful post. And I wish you Godspeed with your son’s driving. Can I interest you in one of those suits that the guy in the Illinois Lottery commercials wears? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.