Confessions of a Driving Instructor

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Confessions of a Driving Instructor

500 Words: What happens in Vegas…

https://open.abc.net.au/explore/143350

Lowering myself inside, I pull the door and sink into the comfort of velour plush.Buckling up, I use a different hand. It feels odd.Strapped in, I breathe, deep and slow. I will myself to stay in control.Staring straight ahead, I go through “the talk” – seatbelt, mirrors, proper driving position and so on and so forth. I’ve already given the “driving a car is like being armed with a loaded gun” talk three times this week, so I skip that one now.As the key is turned in the ignition, I feel my heart sinking into my stomach, or is it my stomach rising to take the place of my heart? Either way, something’s churning inside me and it doesn’t feel good. “Down boy! Down!” I chide my innards, mentally lumping them together into the form of a pesky canine of undisciplined nature. In response, I find myself wriggling around in my seat. “Control!”, I tell myself, “Control!”I will not allow my face to give anything away. I wear a mask of inscrutability. I will ooze confidence.In gear and moving off, I involuntarily grab at the seat belt. My fingers are clutching at the webbing as we properly indicate and make a safe left-hand turn.My bursting lungs force me to exhale and then gulp. To avoid detection, I turn to look out the window but my look doesn’t linger, I am on duty and I sharply turn back to get my eyes on the road ahead. I attempt to radiate calm.We progress smoothly and at a safe speed but why do we seem to be so close to the middle white line? I feel myself shift my whole body to the left, as if willing the car to follow me away from the centre. And then, suddenly, we are going around a fairly decent curve and it looks as though we are going to be hitting the next road marker at any minute! My upper body jerks back towards the right and my brake foot madly convulses downwards onto a nonexistent pedal. I can feel myself hyperventilating. My fingers are now cramped around the seatbelt, rigor mortis style. I try to breathe whilst at the same time peeling my digits off the belt. Silently, I mouth my mantra “control, control! “ We happily sail through a roundabout. I think “Hey, that was good” and then I panic – my brain overloaded with questions – did we indicate correctly?, Were there cars on the left? What about the right? Did I miss anything? I stop clenching my teeth and hunching in on myself. My son’s driving is going well – we are both still alive and we haven’t hit anything…yet.A friend sees my car parked at the playing fields and comments on the “L’” plates. Lots of people do. Over the last few years those ”L’s” have almost become a permanent fixture.“You must be an expert by now” they joke. I laugh, joining in the banter, not willing to confess the Vegas that has become part of my life.Teaching your kids to drive is gut-wrenchingly scary! There are tears and laughter, loud swearing and silent prayers, cold sweats and frayed tempers. Not every outing is mentally exhausting – some can actually be quite pleasurable. But when one of our driving adventures hasn’t gone quite to plan, and my teenager pushes all my buttons and the accelerator too far, I stumble out of the passenger door with legs like jelly and a head about to explode, vowing to keep all my angst to myself because what happens in the Vegas of our driving lesson stays in the Vegas of our driving lesson while I doggedly continue to breathe through my mantra of “control, control”…until the next time.

 

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