Earlier this week, my BFF texted to ask me if I could pick up her oldest son and take him to his summer Spanish class on Thursday. She was going to be out of town at an event with her daughter, and her husband would be at work. Of course, I agreed to do so, and planned on leaving this week's curriculum work for a few minutes to help them out.
Her oldest son is 16 years old. She has told me a few times that she would really like him to get his driver's license so he is able to take himself where he needs or wants to be as well as help out with running the other kids around if needed. Unfortunately, he is not nearly as interested in getting that license as the rest of his family is. In fact, she has told me that most of his friends feel the same way. We laugh about how we could not wait to get our licenses and have some freedom. She believes that teenagers, at least the ones in her son's circle, are kind of afraid of driving on their own (Could that be a product of helicopter parenting?). Also, with them all having cell phones and being active on social media, they don't "need" to actually see their friends in person so that motivation to drive isn't there. It's probably a combination of both, but regardless of the reason, he doesn't have his license so I picked him up on Thursday and took him to his class.
During the ride, I brought up driving with him. He has his permit which allows him to drive with an adult, but has not taken the driver's training which is required to test for a license. Back in the olden days when I was 16, driver's training was offered in school. However, due to budget cuts, it isn't any longer and it is up to new driver (and family) to take the classes on his own time and dime. He told me that he just hadn't had the time to take the classes as he's been very busy, which made me chuckle. I would have moved mountains to gain the independence of a driver's license.
It got me thinking about the driver's training I took through high school. THAT also makes me chuckle. The instructor was our school's head football coach. My high school was/is a high profile football school having won many regional and state championships and groomed numerous college and NFL players. Needless to say, driver's training was not the head coach's top priority. The course was a half of a semester and broken up into three parts - lectures and movies on the rules of the road, simulated driving, and driving practice in an actual car. The first part was a joke. I learned more about the rules of the road from the DMV's booklet than I did from anyone's lectures. Both the simulated driving and the road practice were a bit more helpful, but make me laugh out loud when I think about them.
The simulators took place in a large trailer at that back of the school. Inside was made up of maybe 20 "driver's seats" outfitted with a steering wheel, gas and break pedals, even a seatbelt. In the front of the trailer was a large pull down screen where they showed the view from a moving car's front window on a film projector. We had to practice driving in various scenarios and our actions in the "driver's seat" were recorded and graded. It was like a very low-tech driving video game. Watching everyone lean right or left, and duck, and look over their shoulder, and turn the wheel, and pump the brakes to this old-school film was really quite funny.
So was the road practice. Three goofy teenagers and an old crabby driving instructor are a fun mix. One of us would drive, while the other two sat giggling in the backseat. The instructor sat in the passenger seat with her own foot brake. If someone got too unruly on the road, she had the power to stop that car on her own and give us a talking to. It was a weird feeling to have someone else braking the car while you drove. Even back then, I had a bit of a lead foot, so driving with her was no fun at all.
As soon as that training was over, I made an appointment with the DMV to take my driving tests on the day I turned 16. It never would have occurred to me not to.
4 hours ago