A family of five was killed in a car accident by my house on Sunday. Someone passed a red light at a high rate of speed and hit their minivan as they were crossing the intersection.
A couple of days ago, Spanky and I passed there on our way home and noticed a bunch of flowers and teddy bears people left at the accident site.
We observed a moment of silence and then Spanky asked me, “Can you teach me how to drive?”
“Right now?” I asked.
She’d been asking. I’d been putting it off.
So I detoured over to the elementary school parking lot. The same place I taught Blane and Sweetpea on their very first lesson. I explained the clutch, gears, breaking, etc. and told her the first time she hits the gas the car will hop and conk out. It happens to everyone. It’s tradition. Not to be embarrassed.
She gets behind the wheel and just as I predicted, the car hops and chokes. Her face turns beet red and she laughs, exactly as I thought. A man walking his dog pauses and watches for a while. He’s stuffing a smile, possibly revisiting a memory of when he learned how to drive or when he taught his kids or both.
Some skate board kids zing by and when they notice someone practicing driving, they sit down and watch the show.
Spanky finally makes it past the conk out stage and heads straight for one of the grassy islands in the parking lot.
Although I have my hand on the parking brake, I yell, “Stop! Press the gas!”
I can’t explain what it looked like the car was doing, but she stopped just in time to miss the curb. She was laughing so hard she could barely breathe.
“Woman! You’re going to get us killed! What do you mean, ‘Stop! Press the gas?!'”
My turn to blush, “I meant the brake…”
Before long she’s doing perfect circles in the lot in first gear. She tells me she thinks she will start using the sewing machine so she can develop better control of a foot pedal. I thought that was pretty smart.
And she did. She just finished sock monkey pajama pants (cute!).
Spanky officially begins driving school in August. I’m terrified. I’ll keep telling her as I told the others, assume everyone else on the road is a bad driver.