Friday, August 15, 2008


“Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” ~Daniel 10:14

“Every little kid has always wanted to be a race car driver. This gets some of that out.” ~David Alan Grier

“The future influences the present just as much as the past.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

I often wonder what my kids will be like when they grow up. Will they be kind and considerate? Will they have aspirations for their futures? Will they have a dynamic relationship with God? Will they move out when they’re eighteen? Will they bring home a date covered with tattoos and body piercings? Will they marry that person? You know – stuff like that.

One thing I had not given much thought to was what kind of drivers they would be. And even less so, who would get the privilege of teaching them to drive.

As I think about my own experience of learning to drive, two instances will forever stand out in my memory. The first occurred the Saturday my father decided that I should learn how to drive the turquoise Datsun B-210 (a stick shift). (For those of you who have no idea what a Datsun is, 4COL! U R 2 YUNG! (VSF) @TEOTD, S A NISSAN, C? HTH.) I’m glad he decided to teach me, though, because I have certainly used that skill, oh, five or six times in my adulthood … not nearly as much as I have used my skill for text messaging, of course (ROTFLOL). (I’m kidding … I have never text messaged in my life. Just wanted to make that clear.)

Anyway, as the story goes, I practiced in my high school parking lot for an hour or so before my dad decided I was ready for the open road. I don’t really remember whether or not I agreed, but still I turned right and headed north. About a quarter mile down the road, he decided I should turn right again, this time into a church parking lot.

I sort of forgot that I had to slow down. That was my first mistake. And I’m certain that the last time I had turned into that lot, the telephone pole wasn’t there. (Oh, wait … I’d never turned into that parking lot before …)

No, I didn’t hit it, but let me assure you … it wasn’t because I didn’t try.

The next incident occurred when my father insisted I drive home from church. (I don’t remember, but surely it wasn’t the next day, because I think my father was suffering from PTSD, and I doubt he would have been so anxious for me to take the wheel.) This time my entire family was in the car, but no pressure, of course. I actually did really well – stopped at all the red lights, drove the speed limit, stayed in the right lane except to pass (which I probably didn’t even do, come to think of it). I was doing all the right stuff, so when it came time to change into the left lane to get ready for my turn into our subdivision, I started to look over my shoulder.

“It’s okay. You’ve got time,” I heard him say from the passenger’s side.

Now tell me … how would you interpret that statement?

Some of you may have interpreted it as “It’s okay. You’ve got time.”

I, on the other hand, heard him say, “It’s okay. You’ve got time,” so seizing the time I had, I began my merge into the left lane … the left lane that was at that time occupied by another vehicle.

STOP!! What are you doing??

I swerved back.

You told me I had time! You said it was okay!

You did have time! Time until you had to pull over!

No, you said I had … oh.

Okay, so fast forward to last week when my kids and I went with some friends to a local amusement park. It was a crazy hot day, but we were having fun. When all the kids wanted to go drive the antique cars, we adults complied, though it certainly wouldn’t be as good as the double-loop, three big hills roller coaster (which all the moms rode, hollering like goofballs with our hands in the air while the kids watched – heh heh heh!) Surely they could handle the antique cars. There’s a rail in the middle of the track; how hard could it be?

As we reached the front of the line, having worked through all the kinks about who was going to drive, blah blah blah, I climbed in the back of the car while the kids got in the front. You weren’t allowed to switch drivers, per se, so my son sat behind the wheel and was going to be in control first. At about the halfway point, my daughter would stick her longer leg over and finish up from the passenger’s side. Problem solved, right?

Well, you’d think so, but noooo.

My son couldn’t keep the pedal down. He finally got so frustrated he gave up. To keep the show on the road, I told him to climb across the seat behind my daughter to get out of the way as she took over. I cast a glance over my shoulder. There was a car waiting behind us.

They did so pretty quickly, but the problem was my daughter could not keep the pedal down, either.

For crying out loud! How hard can it be?

I tried to be calm and patient with the situation, but you know how it is …. 101 degrees, you’ve been playing nanny all day to kids who say no to every other ride you try to get them on, your feet hurt, and now there are three cars behind you. In my mind I’m thinking, just push the pedal down!! But, being the calm, collected mother I am, I say, Just push the pedal down!! My son soon joins in, nagging her to do this and do that. (Yeah, dude, ‘cause you mastered it, huh?)

Bless her heart (that’s Southern for “Oh, good grief!!”), she was at the same time trying so desperately to steer (wheel to the far right … BUMP! Wheel to the far left … BUMP! Wheel to the far right ……. well, you get the picture). By this time, we’d probably only gone a total of about 50 yards – in 8" segments. I stopped looking behind me, ‘cause, you know, I really didn’t want to know.

“Stop steering! You’re not going to go off the track! That’s why there’s a rail! Just push the pedal down! …..” I’m sure that her ears eventually converted my words to “Peanuts Special” language. You know, “Mwaa mwa mwaaa mwaaa mwa.”

I finally gave up, told my son to back off, and we sat back to enjoy the show, if not the ride. I’m sure my intensity really wasn’t helping. I toyed with the idea that I should jump over the seat and take over (surely they would let me break the rules for this, I reasoned), but I just couldn’t do it. I thought it better to let her finish than to bully her out of the driver’s seat and make her feel bad about it … no matter if it took us until Friday to get there.

Eventually the Promised Land came into view. She jerked our way to the STOP sign where she was supposed to stop, and stop she did. (She had that part down.) The teenage attendant hopped up onto the running board, stuck his foot on the pedal, and pulled us up to the drop-off point. I’ve never been so happy to see a teenage driver in my life.

“I just saw my future flash before my eyes,” I said to him with a shake of my head.

He looked at me, granting me a most genuine smile with just a hint of laugh.

As we climbed out, I noticed our friends who had been in the car ahead of us standing behind the gate grinning at us. Funny … I’d kind of forgotten all about them.

I repeated my claim to her … that I had just seen my future.

“Everyone was wondering where all the cars were,” she said, a sly grin plastered from ear to ear.

It took a moment for me to comprehend the full impact of that statement.

“There hadn’t been any cars for several minutes,” she continued. “Everyone was wondering what was going on.”

I looked back. Sure enough, there were about fifteen puttering antique cars standing in a solid line.

You know, I’ve been wondering … do the missionary kids have opportunities to drive in Papua New Guinea? If not, I think I will let her grandfather teach her how to drive when she comes back to the states for college.

Don’t panic, dad. It’s okay. You’ve got time. =)


  1. Thanks for the tears-rolling-down-my-face laugh!

  2. It was a lot more hilarious reading it in the comfort of my home in my decoupaging cast than it would have been stuck behind you guys! I love your writing voice, you captured the moment so well, I felt like I was there and I was praising the Lord I wasn't!


  3. I have been there with all three of my kids, but let me assure you that is MUCH calmer than when you are teaching your teenager to drive! You truly do see your life pass before when they are behind the wheel!

  4. YCMU! BWL! I remember those cars - and I could never drive them well either.

  5. Paige, I had to look it up, of course, but I will assume that BWL means "bursting with laughter" rather than "beer, wine, and liquor." 'Cause if that's what it means, it might explain why you were never very good at the antique cars ... ;-)

  6. Speaking as one who is currently riding in the passenger seat...HELP!
    Ahhh, the joys of the teenaged driver! Uh, I mean the joys of the parent of the teenaged driver.

  7. Did you have to remind me?? For the record, my short-lived career as your driving instructor left me gray and decrepit! And now, reading your account has drained the last vestige of strength from my aging carcass. Please give the kids humongous hugs for me...and prepare them to visit me at the "home"!
    Love to everyone,


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