Pauline Harte

Woes of the reluctant driving instructor

Pauline Harte · April 8, 1997

God, in his infinite wisdom and with a decidedly twisted sense of humor, chose to give us ladies declining hormones and teen-agers at the same time. Way to go, Big Guy! Planned parenthood definitely needs to be taken one step further.

And if Mom has teen-aged daughters, the hormonal turbulence of PMS is just what it takes to create a steaming whirlpool of multiple personalities. I think it's back to the drawing board, Dude. I guess you just didn't realize that moms would almost always be the ones stuck giving the precocious progeny those nerve-shattering driving lessons, while dads would be giving sage advice and clucking admonitions from the safety of their recliners. Our kid may be the fruit of our loins, but it's always MY loins that are strapped in next to the new drivers in this family. This is not a really good time for a provocative albeit deadly melange of thermonuclear hormonal mutations to be coming together, Exalted One!

With full knowledge of the outrageously humongous mistake I was about to make, I set off with daughter number one on a several-month-long trip through a macabre, never-ending reel of "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride." Every day I came face to face with the Grim Reaper, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse began closing in on our car. I could smell the flames of hell as tempers and hormones exploded in volcanic eruptions.

Eventually the Department of Motor Vehicles saved us from each other and issued a driver's license to the world's worst driver. Six weeks later we, the parents of the world's worst driver, took away our daughter's driver's license and sold her car. Six months of living hell for naught! But she was a much better driver at 17 than she was at 16. I vowed I would never do this again!

Then came driver number two, and I swallowed my vow. As I opened the passenger door on that first day, every fiber of my being, every pore, every hair follicle screamed out at me, "Don't do it!" With a severely twitching facial tic and nerves of unset Jello, I placed my gorilla slippers and my trembling loins in the "Dead Man's Seat." Star, our puppy of several months, jumped into the back seat. We couldn't get her out. I knew she was fearless, but this was just plain dumb! But I figured listening to her eating the seat belts would help keep my mind off impending death and destruction.

My daughter turned the key. In less than five seconds we were sideways in our driveway with the rear tires on our neighbor's lawn.

The flames of hell erupted around me. I remembered the infertility doctors I kept in business until my miracle babies arrived. NOWHERE on those precious vials of hope did I ever see a warning that ingestion of those baby-making horse pills could result in teen-aged drivers!

We finally made it out of the driveway -- and my neighbor's pansies -- and began our first drive to school. Star was happily munching on the seat belts when my daughter stomped on the brake because something moved on the street. It turned out to be a leaf. My head bounced into the back seat, and Star got to school ten minutes before we did. I covered my face with my hands.

"I can't do this again," I moaned. "I can't I can't I CAN'T!"

But somehow I did, and we finally took our place in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, who chose not to issue a license to a very cautious and responsible driver. Go figure.

A few weeks later she took her second driving test and was finally driving solo on the treacherous, overcrowded streets of this valley. My panic attacks have subsided somewhat, and my mangled nerves are on the mend. There are still some lingering skirmishes being waged on the front lines of The Great Estrogen War, but at least the battles don't have to be fought within the confines of my yuppie-mobile. Retreat is an option that saves lives even on the home front.

There's just got to be an easier way to get gray hair and ulcers.

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