I’ve done some pretty scary things in my life. Ok, so maybe that doesn’t include wrestling with Margaret Thatcher (although I bumped into her in a corridor once, and that was enough), or being tied to train tracks just before the 3.33 from Paddington is due, but you’ll just have to trust me on this.
Point being, that nothing has scared the bejesus out of me quite so much as teaching my daughter to drive. Although my husband did all the hard bits. After her first lesson, he came back and said with a perfectly serious face, ‘She can drive mostly in a straight line, but hasn’t quite got corners, yet.’
After a week or so, when she had ‘got corners’ I went out with her. And really, she was very good. Her main problem was judging the flow of traffic, and that comes with experience. My main problem was that she might be 17, but on a quite fundamental level, she is still my baby.
Rationally, I’d quite like her to pass her test, so I no longer have to be her personal chauffeur. Instinctively, the last thing I want is for her to pass her test and be on her own at the wheel in a thundering lump of metal, with all those maniacs/continental lorry drivers out there cutting her up and undertaking her and probably texting while they’re doing it.
I can’t help it. Every time she meets a new situation and gets slightly nervous, I twitch like a sea anemone on benzedrine, while all the time forcing myself To Speak Calmly. It doesn’t always work.
‘Which lane do I go in, mum?’
‘The one you’re in!’
‘But you said -‘
‘Never mind what I said. Watch out for that car! No, no you’re doing fine. That’s right. Indicate…..And…..(deep breath)…relax.’
It’s not that I want to roll her in bubblewrap, far from it. It’s just that I realise, more and more, that bringing up children is a series of steps in showing them them how act and think for themselves. Teaching her to drive is one of the final bits of letting go before, in a year or two, she leaves home altogether.
And that is really scary