Learning to Drive

The last three miles to my grandparents house is on a back road.  You know those roads that have a few houses, more farms, and an old elementary school? It’s the kind of road that has a turn here and there and a hill or two.  Except for a school bus, a tractor or the occasional deer, it’s a quiet road. Especially in the middle of the day when the people who live in “the Valley” (as we call it) have gone to work.  It’s a simple place and the cars that travel through are in no particular hurry.  

It’s the road where I learned to drive.  When I was barely old enough to see over the steering wheel while sitting on his lap.  Coming back to Pap’s house after going out for breakfast or a Burger King lunch with Grandma; as soon as we got to the intersection by the hospital Pap would look at me and grin.  He’d unbuckle my seatbelt and I’d crawl on his lap.  We’d slow down, take our time and he let me steer the red pick up truck those last few miles home.  Unbuckled, with the window down, his arm holding me around the waist.  He’d tell me I was doing good and to keep it between the lines.  

I could say that during those three mile driving lessons I learned about taking control or confidence.  I could say I learned the thrill of doing something that I probably wasn’t supposed to do. I could say I learned about trust and knowing that Pap would never, ever let me get hurt.  But really, all I know is that more than a year since he’s been gone when we come to that intersection by the hospital, I remember sitting on his lap and driving his truck.  

As I see my daughter play with her grandfathers, I see them let her pull their hair.  They try to sneak her cookies, walk her around the house and blow raspberries on her tummy.  They will be the ones that say “yes” when I say “no.”  They will spoil her, buy her too many presents and let her stay up past her bedtime.  On their watch, she might not be dressed in matching clothes, they might forget her hat or let her have ice cream for lunch.  And hopefully, when the time is right, they will find an old back road and they will let her drive.     

My daughter with my father


What moment or memories from your childhood are you hoping your child gets to experience as well?