My daughter, Zoe, will be driving soon and, like most small-town parents, we take her out on the backroads to practice her skills.
While my husband has the patience of a saint with her, I am a terrible driving instructor. Letting her behind the wheel of my Subaru is one of the mist terrifying and anxiety-inducing things in the world and I know I make the whole experience an ordeal for both of us. Maybe it’s because I know all too well what can go wrong.
My dad also used to let me drive the backroads when I was learning how to drive. One fateful day I was driving back from Victoria, taking CR253 into Weimar. I was coming in hot on the curve right before you cross over I-10. My dad, well aware of the curve coming up, advised me that I might want to slow down but I didn’t think I needed to. As I attempted to manage the curve at speed, the right front tire blew out, sending us into the ditch. I stared forward in confusion as the world spun upside down right before my eyes. It took me a minute to realize the horror of what I had just done. I rolled my dad’s truck and we were now sitting upside down in a ditch on a backroad. My dad calmly reached above my head and turned the key, killing the engine that was still running.
Now keep in mind, this all happened before everyone had a cell phone in their back pocket. We had to walk home. The shame on my shoulders weighed me down and my dad’s silence was worse than if he’d yelled at me. Fortunately for me, Grandpa Banse would save the day. He just drove his well truck down ol’ CR253 and flipped the truck back upright. After throwing on the spare, Dad drove it home surprising unblemished. No doubt my guardian angel was looking after me that day.
Even though I had a rough start to driving, it didn’t stop me from wanting to. A year later, Grandpa bought my first car for me - a totally un-cool seafoam green 1980 Chevrolet Cavalier. I drove it with “The Boys of Summer” cranked all the way up on the radio until the transmission died years later.
My Zoe is growing up and I understand why she wants to get behind the wheel so badly. For a teenager, driving is naturally freedom, probably only akin to learning to walk in its power to liberate. Teens want to leave us, and it’s a good thing. That’s what we’re raising them for - to be able to confidently go out in the world. That’s what every parent should want to see, and it means we’re doing something right.
And if I’m really doing something right, I’ll hear Don Henley singing in her car’s speakers every now and again.
Freedom is never given; it is won. ~A. Philip Randolph
Michelle Banse Stokes is the Publisher of the Colorado County Citizen and lives in Weimar. Connect with Michelle on social media: fb.com/MichelleBanseStokes