Toilet-training for me proved to be one of the most challenging, god-forsaken, never-ending, frustrating periods of my parenting 'journey' ... sitting on the floor of a cramped toilet, quietly whistling, encouraging someone to go 'wee-wee'; the seven stops on the way to town, crouching beside the tyre of the car because someone in the backseat calls out 'poo' and realises it's a great trick every 20K; leaving trolleys of groceries stranded in Woolies as we beat our way to the parent room with a small child clutching their nether regions.
But I'm realising that though toilet training proved frustrating, it was at least not life-threatening ... enter 'L' plates. Sarah obtained her Learner’s Licence at the beginning of the Christmas school holidays. Though she'd turned 16 several months earlier, a clever combination of being at boarding school and a few sly mama moments meant we’d postponed the inevitable as long as possible. Forgetting the paperwork, arriving at the Transport Department just as they closed for the day and “losing” her birth certificate could only be stretched so long.
It’s been an interesting ‘journey’ for all the family, as one learns the road rules, and the rest of us learn incredible patience and facing our fears.
1. Check your Blind Spots
In life or on the road, obstacles frequently appear out of nowhere. You can’t always trust your mirrors, keep a good watch over your shoulder. Except when you’re backing. Then use your mirrors. Don’t open the door and hang your upper body completely out with one hand on the wheel whilst looking behind. Just because Pop does, it isn’t the best way.
2. Come to a complete stop at STOP Signs.
They’re big, red and say STOP for a reason. It isn’t a suggestion. It isn’t an opportunity to send a text or check Facebook. Similarly, when I say “slow down” it isn’t multiple choice.
3. Eye-rolling can apparently be sensed in the driver seat.
Likewise, sudden intakes or out-takes of breath, gripping the door handle, or trying to apply pressure to a non-present brake pedal can all be perceived by the learner driver as some form of non-confidence in their abilities.
4. Learn to Change a Tyre and Back a Trailer.
And change the oil. "It's the life of a motor", unquote Grandad. You’ll thank me later. And impress a lot of people that can’t. We travel a lot of roads without a lot of traffic. Waiting for a gallant gent to arrive to assist in changing a tyre could mean hours lost. And it would appear to me that many of the young men of your generation may not be of much assistance anyway. Word of advice to young men … learn to change a tyre, and don’t ever pass a young girl on the side of the road who’s doing the same. Chivalry is not dead, or at least shouldn’t be.
5. Not so Funny Now is it when your Siblings decide to Rumble in the Backseat?
Wasn’t so long ago you were one of them, and did little to heed my pleading to please be quiet, you were making it hard to concentrate on the road. What goes around comes around.
6. Don’t ever Run out of Fuel.
Check all your gauges all the time. There are no excuses. Know your limits.
7. Amber Lights Really do mean Prepare to Stop
Despite what your father says. Or does. And though we’ve been known to float through a few reddish-amber lights in the fully-loaded Acco, you’ve no excuse in a new Prado with a sensitive braking system.
I’ve roughly calculated that over the next five years, there will be approximately three months when I’m not sitting in the passenger seat to a Learner driver.
Perhaps toilet training wasn't so bad.