Growing up on a farm, driving started young, on lawnmowers, small tractors and mini-bikes (the Honda Trail 70 that my brother and I both rode all over the farm some 40+ years ago still runs), eventually graduating to trucks, full sized tractors and cars.
I learned to drive on the road in my Mom’s VW Rabbit – a stick shift – when I was 14. We went out on one of the many long straight country roads that run between the cornfields for miles on end, and I practiced. Start from a dead stop, shift through first, second and third gears, then slow and downshift, come to a stop. Repeat.
Maya is 14 this summer and was looking forward to the opportunity to get behind the wheel (having heard the story of my own home grown ‘drivers ed’), so on our recent trip to Indiana I thought, “Why not?” True, she has not had the benefit of years running small-engined vehicles up and down large yards and fallow fields, but our car is an automatic and she had driven my parents golf cart-like “chuck wagon” last summer.
Out we went, to those same, long country roads that have not changed an iota in the 33 years since I first drove them. After a brief tutorial on mirrors, gears and foot placement, she drove and I was a passenger with her for the first time.
You know what? I wasn’t nervous as she took the wheel and drove us from the middle of nowhere back to my parents house. It was great, and the sense of accomplishment she felt was palpable.
In two years she’ll get a learners permit. By that time we’ll have visited the farm and gone driving enough that I expect the transition to licensed driver to be a smooth one.
Just another example that motivation and opportunity + guidance and support = quick and easy learning.