Driven To Tears

Time flies when you have kids. We have two, so I feel like I’ve been in a forward-moving time machine — blink and a year has gone by. I started writing this column in January of the same year our daughter was born, 17 years ago. You’ve literally watched her grow up on these pages, although what I write about her these days needs to be sensitive to her feelings. Of course, my feelings can go out the window.

Case in point: I am currently instructing her on how to drive. She has taken the requisite classroom and road driver’s education courses, and we are working on getting her enough of the required road hours to apply for her driver’s license. I think she needs 60 hours of being behind the wheel for both day and night driving.

I’m taken back to when my dad taught me how to drive. He was U.S. Army and served in Korea and Vietnam. We lovingly nicknamed him “The Great Santini” after the Robert Duvall movie character. Prior to that, his nickname was “sir.” That gives you an idea on how the driving instruction went. I had to learn in his standard shift Toyota Corolla.

His passing criteria was based on a single pass or fail test of driving. In those days, behind Foodland in Wahiawa there was an incredibly steep driveway. I would have to stop on that hill and shift into gear without moving backward. To give you an idea, that hill was so steep that I felt I was sitting in the space capsule of a rocket preparing for takeoff.

It took several attempts and numerous “dress-downs,” but I finally mastered the move. I swore back then that I would never put my own child through that. If you’ve never taught a teen how to drive, keeping that kind of promise now seems nearly impossible — especially when having to teach my 17-year-old daughter how to parallel park.

As it turns out, she is a good, safe driver. I’m pleasantly surprised, and can proudly claim that I taught her.

That’s pretty good considering, if you were to listen to my wife in the front passenger seat while I’m at the wheel, I don’t know how to drive.