Thursday, January 15, 2009

Birthdays and Driving Lessons

Wednesday was my Grandmother's 98th birthday so my Dad hosted a small party for her this past Sunday.

All 12 of her great-grandchildren came but we snapped this picture before one of my cousins and his 3 kids arrived.


We had a nice time visiting with everyone and it all seemed just a little sweeter after our near death experience on the way over.

Island Girl has been driving on the back roads here in town and once she got on Hwy 98 and drove a block before getting off again but she hasn't really had any real road experience. And she hasn't driven over 30mph yet. For some reason I thought Sunday would be a good day to change that.

My grandmother's party was in Pensacola, which is a straight shot down Hwy 98 from here and I knew that once we passed Hurlburt Field it would be smooth, 55mph driving. I asked the Island Girl if she was ready to try highway driving and even though she was nervous she wanted to try it.

We passed the gate at Hurlburt and after traffic thinned some I pulled into a Circle K and we switched seats. She was really nervous, took several deep breaths and then said "Ok, I can do this!" She put the car in gear and rolled slowly toward the road.

We waited until there was a nice long break in traffic and she pulled out onto the highway. And then didn't want to accelerate. She's putting along at 35 and I see a pack of cars coming up behind us so I'm telling her that she absolutely HAS to go faster. Who ever heard of having to tell a teenager to drive faster?

Slowly, painfully, she eased up to 44. And wanted to stay there. I mentioned that the speed limit was 45 and that she could at least go that fast but she wasn't interested.

The speed limit went to 55 and she got up to 50 and seemed to be getting comfortable. We were behind a camper that was doing 5o as well and since the speed limit was 55 I decided she should go around the camper. There wasn't much traffic and passing the camper should have been no problem.

Except... I didn't take into account that she has never passed a car before and really had no idea how the whole lane changing, car passing, thing works.

What happened next happened pretty fast but was all very surreal with a strong slow motion feel.

I waited until there weren't any cars behind us and said "Ok, get over in the left lane" The girl put on her turn signal, braked and then turned into the left-hand lane. Turned, like you would turn off the highway onto a side road! I'm trying to explain how to change lanes when I realize that we're only going about 30mph and I can see a pack of cars coming up behind us - fast.

I'm getting nervous and telling her to Go Faster! and she's just not wanting to.
She's started to close the gap between us and the camper in the right lane when the pack of cars coming from behind catches up to us. And they were all over us. We're going about 45 and they're doing at least 55 and everyone is whipping around us and then back in between us and the camper and she got really nervous. Which meant she slowed down even more.

At this point I've completely abandoned the 'pass the camper' plan and just want to get back into the right-hand lane. But cars are everywhere and all of them want to get around us. And Island Girl will NOT go any faster.

And then it was over. All of the cars were gone and we could safely move back into the right-hand lane. Which we did. And the Island Girl lit into me like you wouldn't believe. "What was that all about? Why on earth did you want me to get out there in that lane? What kind of mother yells at her daughter to go faster? What is wrong with you?"

"I just wanted you to pass that camper" I say. She glances over at me in shock and tells me that I never said a word about passing - I just told her to get in the left lane. What? I've been saying that we need to pass the camper so we can at least go the speed limit for the last 5 miles. Why did she think I wanted her to get in the left lane?

I guess my repeating over and over again that we needed to pass the camper didn't register, which is just more proof that no one in my family listens when I talk LOL

A short while later we were in a 45 zone but traffic was a little heavier and all of the cars were doing about 50. I kept telling her to speed up some so we wouldn't get run over but she got all indignant and informed me that the speed limit was 45 and how dare I tell her to speed.

And don't you know that as soon as we got to the nursing home she went in and told the whole family that I "threw her out into the left hand lane" and "tried to make her speed" LOL

Obviously we need to work on passing but first she'll have to get over her fear of the left hand lane because she says she's NEVER driving in that lane again LOL

I can't wait to take her on the interstate and try to get her to drive 70mph LOL
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