Last July, my oldest child, my daughter, turned 15. She was so excited to take the driver's permit test. There was a part of me that hoped she would fail over and over, so that I would not have to get in the passenger seat with her. Unfortunately, she passed, and I had to overcome my fear of riding shotgun with my kiddo.
It had only been eleven years since I survived a near fatal car accident in which I was the front seat passenger. The driver veered off the shoulder, over-corrected, and sent us into barrel roll at 60 MPH. Since that day, I prefer to be in the driver’s seat. I break out into cold sweats while sitting in the passenger seat and prefer to avoid it, if at all possible.
Before our first attempt at allowing her behind the wheel, I tried to feed her as much info as possible prior to her even turning the key. I told myself I would treat the situation as if I were face to face with a coyote. I would not show fear! Hopefully this would keep my daughter relaxed and keep me alive.
With all the information I had given her, I did not realize just how little she knew. I mean she did pass tests in order to get a permit. I pulled the vehicle to the side of the road in a neighborhood with little to no traffic. I told her to slowly turn left onto the street. There was a mailbox about 30 yards in front of us For some reason, she thought turning the steering wheel right would turn the vehicle left . . . and, in that moment, had I been face to face with a coyote, I would have died! We managed to avoid the mailbox and get the car on the street, but this would turn out to be the scariest two minute ride back to our home.
Soon after this first attempt at driving, she tore her ACL and meniscus while playing basketball, and I fell and broke my leg shortly after. We both had surgery and our driving days were on hold. Having youth on her side, she healed up much quicker than I. By the end of August, she was begging to drive again.
I was slowly getting around with a walker and wheelchair. After having been bed ridden for 6 weeks, I guess I was feeling the need for some danger and excitement in my life. I agreed to go for a ride with her around the neighborhood. I loaded myself into the death seat, and sat my walker as far away from the vehicle as my arms could reach. My wheelchair was also sitting about 5 feet away. I told her to slowly back out of the driveway and go. Apparently, what she heard, was "Turn the wheel hard left and gun it."
“Boom, crack, crunch”, those were the sounds I heard as she hit my wheelchair, and ran over my walker!
“Dad! Why did you put that stuff so close to the car?” She asked. I explained, if it were a parked car sitting next to us, she would have just side swiped it.
I hesitantly proceeded with the ride along. We slowly crept up a large hill, which was just fine with me. As we reached a plateau, there was an upcoming curve and we began to pick up speed.
I said, “You are gonna need to slow down. Slow down please. Tap the brakes. HIT THE BRAKE!!!”
I closed my eyes and began to pray, as we sped through this sharp corner. “You are making me nervous Dad”, she said, with a hint of displeasure in voice.
“You are gonna give me a heart attack, and a nervous breakdown!" I fearfully explained.
We managed to make it back to the driveway where I could now assess the damage to my chair and walker. The walker was bent and unusable. I immediately made a call to Mercy Driving School and signed her up for driving lessons.
She has had three lessons and driven a few more times with me riding along. She has made a lot of improvement, and is now only a couple of months from turning 16. I am still scared to death that she will soon be allowed to drive the streets on her own. Once she is off and driving, my 14-year-old son will turn 15, six months later. Yikes!
Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments at email@example.com
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