April 20, 2024
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April 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

No Longer in the Driver’s Seat

Congratulations! Your child has passed his or her driving permit test, despite your tefillos! He has never passed a written test in his life, but this one he passed just fine. You half expected the DMV to call you in for a conference after the test.

“We’re really worried about your son.”

“You and us both.”

And now you have to teach your child to drive. You are not ready for this. You know how to drive just fine, but you’re thinking there should maybe be a course on how to teach people to drive.

This is it. Our apologies.

Teaching Your Child to Drive: A Crash Course

Step 1. Should Your Child Drive?

This is not really a step, but let’s talk about this. I mean sure, the law is that a person can get a license before the part of their brain that assesses risk is fully developed, and your opinion doesn’t matter here. On the other hand, you’re putting your child in control of what is your most expensive and dangerous possession, unless you count the child.

“You want to learn to drive? You just started sitting in the front seat, like, pretty recently!”

If they’re smart, they will try to explain to you the benefits of having another driver in the house—benefits that had probably never occurred to you in all your years of knowing this day would come. Your child says, “I can run errands for you!” and they list, like, five places they can go for you. And you say, “All of those are places that you currently walk to for me. So now you want us to pay for gas and insurance and worry about your safety, plus I know there’s no parking there, which is why I always have someone walk—all to make it more convenient for you to do kibud av?”

Step 2. Is Your Child Actually Ready?

This is another great question. Because to my knowledge, the permit test doesn’t really focus on real-world questions. It has questions like, “How much alcohol are you allowed to drink before driving?” And you can’t just write, “Zero.” That’s an unacceptable answer. So apparently, there’s a minimum, too.

Point is, it’s all on you.

Step 3. Before Your Child Drives

—Whenever you drive, be careful to exhibit behavior that your child should be doing. That way, he or she can say things like, “I should signal my turns, because my father has been signaling his turns for the last three weeks or so.”—One article I read said that before your child’s first lesson, you should make him or her read the manual on how to operate your car, as a way of procrastination. Someone should read it. At the end of this stage, the article says, “He should know how to change a flat, start and stop the car, fasten a seat belt, etc.” This is when you’re teaching him about seat belts?

Step 4. Getting Into the Car With Your Child

—Only one parent should teach the child at any one time, for the same reason that the president and the vice president don’t travel together.—Assure your child beforehand that you love him or her very much, but you’re going to be yelling. A lot.—Make sure to bring a clipboard. I’m not sure what that does, but driving instructors always have clipboards.

Step 5. Assuming the Correct Position

—With your right hand, you want to be clutching that little handle above your window. That way, if the seatbelt somehow fails, you’ve still got it covered.—Your left hand, meanwhile, should be clutching the little handle over the driver’s window. You can never be too safe.—The clipboard can take care of itself.—If you can, try to use a car that has a handbrake, and keep your left hand on the handbrake at all times. Or, if you want, put your right hand on the handbrake at all times and your left hand on the steering wheel. Your child’s hands should be at 10 and 2, and your hand should be at 5.

Step 6. Choosing Where to Go

—On your first few outings, you want to take your child to an empty parking lot, so he or she can practice going around imaginary cars, and also going through some of them. And all you have to worry about is light posts and shopping carts.—In order to do this, though, you actually have to find a big, empty parking lot, which you thought were everywhere, but now that you’re trying, it turns out are not so easy to find. Like you pictured that there would be this huge abandoned mall within reasonable driving distance to your home, but there is not. Usually that’s good news.—I mean, everyone says, “Just find a parking lot.” Where is there a parking lot? You can’t even Google this. And a parking lot that is being actively used is actually more difficult than the average street, because it has pedestrians walking every which way as if there are no cars losing patience behind them, drivers backing up, circling angrily, accelerating into parking spots…

—Yes, there might be a few shut-down businesses near you, but almost no parking lot is as big as you imagine it’s going to be. Most lots are, like, two to three rows of cars. You drive a small circle several times and you’re done. “This is productive. We’ve been doing this for 20 minutes and you have yet to make a left turn. Don’t hit the store!”—New drivers need you to tell them things like that, in case they forget.

Anyway, that is about as many steps of procrastination I can give you before you actually have to let your child start driving. So the first step to that is—Oh, wait, it turns out we’re out of space here. We’ll do it next week, then.

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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