In the state of Georgia the passage from childhood to adulthood is marked by several legal events. In particular, at age 15,
it is the dreaded Learner's License, LL. This one is feared most by the parents,
even above the age of consent, since it is the one that is life threatening to the parent.
The day finally arrived when my son was allowed to seek the Holy Grail, that piece of plastic with is picture on it issued by
the state, the LL. My son and I were going together to seek this prize.
Son, got any money to pay for the License?
No problem, a little detour by the bank and I get some cash to use which he will repay to me.
Son, I do not see your driver's manual. Do you have the paperwork you need?
Uh, no. But it is right on my dresser.
So a quick U-turn and we head back to the house. This time he assures me we have everything but I tell him to go through
the book and double check. About half way to the patrol office he said to me;
Uh, Dad, it says something about a birth certificate.
Exit the expressway and we head back to the house. We find the certificate and I do a check of the book. We are off
again and 25 miles later we are at the patrol station. We stand in line for and hour, get up to the counter and the lady said to us;
Didn't you read where it says you have to get this form signed at your school?
Well get it signed and come back.
Yea, sure. The school is 30 miles away. Anyway we are off to the school. As my son gets the document signed I noticed
paper on the floor board. It is an addendum to his manual that had fallen out and there is where it said we needed the school
form. When my son returned I asked him:
Have you read this manual?
Uh, well, some of it about road signs.
OK, no matter, we have the forms and head back to the patrol office. We arrive again and have everything we need. My son
gets his test and goes off to use his wisdom to pass. As I wait I wonder if the state will really issue a
LL to my fifteen year old. Time passes and he comes forth proudly holding
that piece of plastic with his picture on it, just like a mug shot.
So you passed. Did you miss any questions?
Uh, well a few but I passed.
Oh, what kind of questions did you miss?
Uh on road sign. ............... Can I drive home?
Given the events of the day, I thought about it and said;
I bet you still believe in the Easter Bunny.
Then I drove home wildly looking forward to our first driving lesson on a highway.
If you have a child about to turn fifteen or if you have high blood pressure, a heart condition, or any type of nervous
disorder, then do not read the following sections.
Getting the LL is only the start of the adventure. For the following year the parent must
teach his/her child how to function on the street by allowing the teen to drive, whether or not the parent wants to or not. It is one
of those challenges all parents must face (which makes them re-think about why they wanted children.)
There is of course a difference between Mother instruction and Father instruction. The following recounts two early lessons for my son.
Dad and LL
Preparation begins in the carport (after a pint of Newcastle for Dad.) My son jumps in the driver's side, adjust the seat and
mirrors, and sits awaiting the green flag.
Son, before we begin there are a couple of things I want to bring to your attention.
- First, I think you should pull your seat forward a bit. You can not slouch so low or you can not see over the dash.
- Second, I believe you are wearing your pants a little low on your hips. You need to pull them up to your waist or you will not be able to move your knees.
- You are gonna have to remove your headphones or I will not be able to instruct you and you will not be able to hear the other car before it crashes into you.
- And there is really no need for the joy stick. It does not fit into the cigarette lighter and it does not stir the car anyway.
- Finally, you can stop pressing the gas petal and making motor noises. The car will not move until you start the engine.
With corrections made we are ready. The radio is turned to 96 Rock at full volume. I turn it off. We begin to ease backward out of the driveway.
Son, straighten you wheels a little .............
You are a little close to the edge Son ...............
You are driving into the yard son .................
Following the last instruction my son floored the gas instead of pressing the breaks. I immediately realized that strong direction
would not be appropriate. Well, no real harm done. We may have lost a rose bush but the rear wheel dug a hole big enough to plant a new tree.
Out on the neighborhood streets I lit my pipe then set back to enjoy the ride and offer pointers. As we approached intersections
my son would ask, Which Way? I would point in a direction then close my eyes in anticipation of jumping the curb.
We were coming up to a street that was wide with few houses, idle for an LL.
So without pointing I said, Turn right at that next street. As I should have expected since I did not
point, my son promptly turned left, into Mr. Bailey's driveway. At first we did not know Mr. Bailey but got to know him and
his family as my son asked for directions 'back' to the street, as Mr. Bailey laughed out of control.
Adventures continued until we returned home. My son shut down the automobile and asked me,
How did I do Dad?
Pretty good son but there are a few things you need to remember.
- First, right is the hand you use to eat cookies.
- We are not delivering mail so you do not have to get close enough for me to drop the flag on the mail box.
- We do not live in England. In America we drive on the right side of the road.
- You should use the horn only when you have to do so, not to tap out the beat of a rock'n'roll song.
- And, it is really not a good idea to lean out the window and wave at girls you know with both hands while you are going down the street.
It will all come to you with practice and don't worry about that jogger. I am sure he will be out of the hospital in a couple of weeks.
Mom and LL
Follow the curve!
Don't go too fast!
Watch for people.
My little girl in the back seat, We're gonna die! We're gonna die!
Don't get close to the edge!
Use your turn signals!
My son responds, Mom, can I start the car now?
As the trio drove down the road:
Watch out for that lady!
Get over! Don't hit her!
Turn away from her!
My son did avoid the lady. In fact the lady was 100 feet away from the street behind a row of pine trees.
At a major intersection it went something like this.
NO! YOU CAN'T NOW. TURN RIGHT!
Yo, Mom, have you heard the new album by ...........
My daughter in the back seat, We're gonna die! We're gonna die!
LOOK OUT, YOU'RE GOING TO HIT SOMEBODY!!!!
............. as my son whips right in front of another car, hitting the little old lady's grocery cart while he drove through a
parking lot at full speed then came back to the street without locating the break petal.
My daughter in the back seat, We're gonna die! We're gonna die!
After this short lesson the trio returned home. My son asks, How did I do Mom?
My wife does not answer but enters the house, gets a bottle of wine out of the refridge, goes to her bedroom and locks the door.
My daughter went to her room and has not come out for two days.
Well son, how was driving with Mom?
I think she got a little up tight.
- - - - - - LL training is man's work.