I Need a Sedative

Fake picture. No one teaching a teenager how to drive is that happy.

Posted by Danny

I’m going to need sedatives.

DJ turned 14 last week.  I was quickly informed that at age 14 1/2 you can take Driver’s Ed.  I had no idea.

Jesse recently told me that I needed to get her out in a car at the Fairground’s parking lot so she could begin to get a feel for being behind the wheel.  We were at the lake on Sunday with friends so another dad and I took DJ and her three buds out for a spin on some back roads.

There is a God.  I know this because I am here tonight writing and yesterday at 5 pm I was not sure that would be the case.

I guess I made a few assumptions – like thinking they knew how to start the car, or which way to turn the steering wheel when you backed up, or what a turn signal was.  They have been riding with us for the past 14 years.  I thought perhaps they noticed that we’d gently pressed the plastic bar on the side of the steering wheel 3,459 times each year and that a little green arrow lit up.  Apparently they did not.  They were probably texting.

Our conversation went like this:

“I am going to start a leaf collection.”


“Because you are driving so close to the trees that I can easily pick them from the limbs.”

“Your grandmother could walk faster than you are driving.  Give it a little gas.”

“Stop at the intersection.  This is actually two football fields from the intersection.  Pull up several hundred yards and re-stop.”

“I’m about to pee in my pants” (that was one of the girls talking because she was laughing so hard).  I’ve seen that before and it isn’t pretty.

“What do we do if another car drives by?” 

“I don’t think I understand the question.  You keep driving on your side.  Close to the trees like you’re doing now.”

“I feel like a postman.”


“I can open the mailboxes!  Move to the left a little.”

I remember my Driver’s Ed class.  Our teacher’s name was Scooby.  His mother made his three-piece suits.  I was in the car with Carolanne Rahal.  I was petrified when she was driving.  I’ve never been so close to a telephone pole.  I remember driving down I-95 with Carolanne cruising at 35 miles per hour.  Cars whizzing by – I was mortified.

Scooby had an advantage – he had brakes on the passenger side of the car.  At one point on Monday DJ pressed the gas so hard I slammed on the brakes – at least I tried.  I forgot I was not on the driver’s side.  Pressing the carpet does not have the same effect.

This will take years off of my life.  I may have to call in Jesse for reinforcements.  He’s a bit more daring than I – he might have more of a stomach for this sort of thing.

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  1. Jenny Nelson

     /  July 6, 2011

    Couple of things to consider. When Mike taught Claire to drive, he rented a car with a pull up brake in the middle — just in case.There is probably a more technical term for that, but I don’t know it. That’s probably why I didn’t teach her to drive. Claire did hit a mailbox on the first try as she waved to friends in the nieghborhood. It worked out fine. She’s a good driver and the neighbors were nice about the damage.

    Another thing. That guy in the picture isn’t teaching the girl to drive. Not sure what he’s doing, but he’s not teaching her to drive.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  July 6, 2011

      I like the idea of the middle break. I may need to look into that!

  2. Dave K

     /  July 6, 2011

    The Fairgrounds is the place. My two were taught there on a stick shift. I made them do it without shoes so that they could get the feel of the clutch engaging. Once I tried it with Matt in the alley behind out house. He went faster in reverse that anyone has ever gone, before or since. I was terrified and screamed “Stop!” But I guess it was meant to be, since he can back up and park a trailer with the best of them. I checked out Erin out by tricking her into driving up the hill on Peace St, having to stop at Glenwood Ave. and restart with a clutch on the hill. Getting her there was easy since she is directionally deficient. But she has a Garmin now and go anywhere.

    I wish you the best in this endeavour.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  July 6, 2011

      That brings back the worst memories – in a straight shift Y bus coming back from Halifax Court – Peace and Glenwood – full of kids – whew, it’s amazing someone didn’t get hurt!

  3. Sound pretty normal to me. When Dad tried to teach me to drive he said as we went under an underpass…”I could have kissed the side of that underpass!”.Sounds just like you. I told you that you got it honest. End of story… Mom paid someone to teach me to drive. You see, she was in the car that day too.

  4. Charlotte Gregory

     /  July 6, 2011

    My mom just turned me older to my older friends. I was glad because she had this way of leaning towards me/the center of the car that did not inspire confidence.

  5. Norma Pedersen

     /  July 6, 2011

    After teaching one teenage boy how to drive, I feel your pain! I think the law should read that a driver over the age of 25 AND someone certified in CPR should both be in the car with the new teenage driver. That way, when your heart stops (and it will), you can be brought back to life. Remember, you get to teach 3 girls how to drive. If indeed this takes years off of your life, is it possible to turn a negative age????

    • Danny Tanner

       /  July 6, 2011

      I may not make it through this one – so the other two may not matter.

  6. 14 and a half for Driver’s Ed! Yikes! In NJ they can’t get their license until they are 17, and then it’s very restricted, which I have a whole host of conflicting thoughts about, but whatever.

    Just make sure you emphasize that one must slow down before making a turn. You’ll be glad you did.

  7. I remember my wife going out with our daughter to give her some time behind the wheel. Our daughter gave her mother a bunch of trash talk. “Quit telling me what to do. I know what I’m doing!” etc. My wife made her stop the car and get out. Wife got in the driver’s seat and drove off, leaving the daughter walk the last mile home. We thought it was hysterically funny. Daughter failed to see the humor.

    I handled all future driving lessons.

    “Sweetheart, you know we are three miles from home. Are you sure you are wearing the right shoes to walk that far?”

    I didn’t get much lip.


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