By Kenneth Braswell
Recently I took my 16-year-old daughter out for her second driving lesson. Well, I’ll stop short of calling it a lesson; let’s just say it was an exercise in testing the limit of my nerves.
Our first lesson was uneventful. We drove around the Turner Field parking lot in circles. While it wasn’t very stimulating for her, it helped me a long way in practicing not jumping across the car in an attempt to slam on the breaks or grabbing the steering wheel. For the second lesson, we decided to take on a little more complicated parking lot. More turns, tighter driving lanes between the parking lot stripes and a couple of stop signs.
20 minutes into the lesson, I decided to take it up a notch. So I had her make some consecutive turns; Some left/left turns, a few left/right/left turns and even a right/right/left/left turn. On the right/left turn, the next few moments didn’t turn out how I planned. As she approached the left turn, there was a curb in front of us. Since I saw it coming, I assumed she saw it coming too. Having trained myself thoroughly in the first lesson not to break character, I sat and watched the curb get closer.
Suddenly we met the curb, the car went up on the curb, I heard a crunch beneath the car, she slammed on the break, my 7 year-old son in the back yelled and I saw my life flash before my eyes. And then something else happened. I saw the look of horror on my daughter’s face and everything changed in that moment for me. These are the three things I learned at that moment.
- This was the literal bump in the road that we all face in life. For my daughter, this was a huge one. She believed she destroyed something that I had more value in than her. I had to immediately be clear that my car had no value and that it was more important to help her understand that making a mistake is just part of learning.
- As much as I’d like to believe that teaching her how to drive was about her life being in my hands, there are times like these that will remind you that ultimately your life as a parent will be in the hands of your child. Prayerfully, we have faith that the bumps of our lives will only be six inches high and that a little noise and flat tire will be the only consequence.
- I realized that night when I kissed her on the forehead and told her I loved her, that I wouldn’t give up the opportunity to run into a thousand curbs as long as we are doing it together. Driving is a metaphor for life; slow down in the turns, pay attention to the detours, stay in your lane and be prepared for the occasional bump in the road.
Kenneth Braswell is the Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated. Learn more about his work by following him at @fathersincorp or visit www.fathersincorporated.com or www.kennethbraswell.com.