Saturday, February 14, 2015

I'm only going 22....

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

I think one of the most stressful things a parent goes through, has got to be teaching your child to drive...

In your head you know they're growing up, in your heart you don't want them to venture out into that cold, cruel world without you.

When Princess Bear's time came to start driver's training, I was still in possession of my 2004 Pontiac GTO. So I thought I'd try to teach her how to drive a manual transmission. 

Off to a large deserted parking lot we went. We swapped seats, and with some trepidation, she pushed in the clutch and slipped it into first.

"Now, you've watched me do this a thousand times...start easing off the clutch until the car starts to move, then give it a little gas before letting the clutch out the rest of the way..."

She gave me a nervous smile and nod and said "OK."

And did it perfectly!!! First try!!! Holy Cow, I got another Danica Patrick here!

"Alright, speed up a little more...take your foot off the gas, push in the clutch and drop it in second, let the clutch out and give it gas again."

She did, again just perfectly... "this is going to be a breeze!" I thought. 

As we came to the end of the parking lot and she slowed down to make the turn I was so impressed with my obvious ability to train a complete novice in driving a stick, I forgot to tell her to clutch and downshift... The car shuddered a few times and stalled.

She looked at me in horror like she'd screwed up.

"It's OK Bug, my fault... I should have told you to at least push in the clutch when you make a slow speed turn. You didn't do anything wrong, and you didn't hurt the car. Just restart it and we'll start over."

Now she was rattled, four or five times she started it and stalled it trying to take off. I could see she was becoming more and more frustrated as she went.

"Try giving it a little gas and let the clutch out a little slower, then once you start moving give it more gas."

She gave a determined nod "OK".

She started the car again, eased off the clutch...and as the car started to roll, she punched it!!!!


The car shot forward as all 350 horses came online and screamed their displeasure! Panicking she mashed the pedal harder and the RPM's shot to redline as the end of the parking lot raced towards us.

"Brake Katie, BRAKE!!!" I said, panicking myself at this point.

So what does my darling daughter do? Looks down to see which pedal it is!!! Not enough time...we'll never stop in time!!! I reach over, grabbed the wheel and turned hard to the left...power sliding as the ass end of the car started to come around, and she finally figured out which pedal stopped the car.

We sat in silence for a minute, hearts racing and breathing fast.

"I think we're done for today if it's OK with you," I said. (And while I still had rear tires)

She simply nodded. 

She never asked for more lessons in the GTO.

When gas prices skyrocketed, I turned in the lease on my GTO and bought a Chevy Aveo 5 door hatchback...I know, no one was as disappointed as me! 

Katie quickly named it Daisy!

An automatic, Katie LOVED to drive Daisy....and no matter how many times I told her to stop calling her fathers' car Daisy, she persisted.

We put many miles in, in that little car. She much preferred driving it over Momma Bears' Acadia SUV. Part of the reason for THAT was Momma Bear herself...

A little too high strung when riding shotgun with a new driver...voices were raised, tempers flared, and nobody learned anything. I was always a lot more laid back, rarely even raised my voice but more often would ask "What are you doing?". Let her evaluate what she thought I was talking about and have her tell ME what she thought she was doing wrong.

When we got snow on the ground, I once took her out to see how the snow affects how the car handles. While still driving in our neighborhood there is a 90° turn near a small cul de sac, as she was in the middle of the turn I reached down and grabbed the emergency brake!
The car immediately went into a skid. She did EXACTLY what she was supposed to do, turned into the skid...almost saved it. We just put the nose into a little snow bank. And she burst into tears!!!

"Why are you crying?" I asked, "You handled that perfectly..."

"I almost wrecked your car..." she said.

"No, you didn't, you wouldn't have even skidded at all if I hadn't pulled on the E-brake to see how you'd handle it."

"You what?!?" The tears were gone just that fast. "On PURPOSE???" Uh-oh

"Well, um... yeah. I just wanted to see if you knew what to do..."

"That's MEAN!!!" and those were the last words she said to me that drive.

As she became a better, more confident driver...and her sixteenth birthday approached she started talking about getting a car. Of course, as any good parent does, I told her I didn't have the cash to get her a car. So it was her plan that I should let her drive my 1982 Corvette Collectors Edition. Yeah, right! 

I saved letting her drive that because I knew that was what she'd always want to drive once the genie was out of the bottle.

So a month or two before her 16th. Birthday she was going over to a friends' for a while.

We fired up Daisy and let her drive over there, windows down in the warm July morning. Several of her friends were all meeting over at this friends' home. As I drove back, I decided I'd get the Vette out and give it a bath and a wax job, clean the wheels/tires and take it when I went to get her...and let her drive it home. Show off a little for her friends.

When I pulled up into the driveway at the appointed time, all the girls and a couple of guys were all hanging out on the porch. As Katie walked out from the group, I got out of the car and met her half way. Tossed her the keys and said, "Drive me home..."

The smile on her face made it all worthwhile...

We got in; she adjusted the mirrors and the seat, and when everything was as she wanted it, we slowly backed out of the driveway. She beeped the horn, gave her friends a wave, and we were off. 

Through the neighborhood, she was really going slow. When I asked her why she said, she was scared...

"Scared?" I ask, "Of what? It's just a car Katie, just like any other..."

"But what if I break it?" 

"That's what insurance is for..." I explained. 

She started to loosen up and get comfortable by the time we made it to the main road.

No one was coming and after a complete stop, she smoothly pulled out on the road. I had the T-tops off, and I was enjoying the scenery when the seat of my pants notified me we were going a little faster than the 35 MPH speed limit on this road.

I glanced over at the speedometer and saw it was at 45 and climbing.
Nonplussed I asked her "Do you know what the speed limit is on this road?"

"Yeah, 35MPH...why?" She asked.

The speedo had now topped 65 with no sign of slowing down...luckily it was a long straight road with not a soul on it but us.

"You don't think you might be going a little fast?"

"Dad, I'm only going like 22..." She said in "annoyed teenager" voice.

"You might want to check the large gauge NEXT to the tachometer (which was at 2200 RPMs), cause if you're waiting for IT to reach 35, we'll be doing about 110 MPH down this road!"  I answered in "long suffering Dad" voice.

"Oh My God!" She said, slowing down. "I thought it felt really fast, but I thought it was just because we were in the Corvette," She told me in "not so cocky now" teenager.

"This is why, whenever you get into a vehicle you've never driven before...familiarize yourself with the gauges, where they are and what they show, OK?"

"OK," She said, and the smile was back.

We didn't go right home, but took a little drive...letting her enjoy herself.

When the big 16th. Birthday came...we gifted her with a '95 Black Chevy Monte Carlo. I put butterfly decals on mini windows to make it more of a "girls" car, and a vanity plate with her initials. I think the smile says it all!

Though I made sure she knew which one the speedometer was!!! Lol

Drive Safe and Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear


  1. That is always a very scary rite of passage. Glad you got safely through it.

    My oldest three all learned in an old VW. When they could Stop on the upside of a hill and ease forward with use of the emergency brake and coordinated clutch release, I knew they were good to go.

    Fun post.

    1. Hello joeh, she's on her second car now...both automatics. I'll try again when if I ever get another manual! Lol

  2. I learned to drive in my parents' 1976 Monte Carlo....or as my friends called it, 'the aircraft carrier'. That was eventually considered 'my car', although never officially gifted to me. But they got an 81 Monte Carlo when I got my license that year so I took over the 76. At 5'2", everyone wanted to know how I saw over the steering wheel and the huge front end.

  3. Awwwww, love this! I liked learning to drive with my dad. My mom sounds like mama bear!

    1. Glad you liked it Jennifer, and good to see you back! :-)

  4. Oh I'm sure all of my kids wished you were their teacher, I was much like Mama Bear.. Pins and needles the whole way, total panic mode and I may have expressed it a time or two..

    1. And I'm sure there was NEVER any screaming involved! Lol
      I was much more laid back....

  5. So glad you remained calm, and didn't give her the Corvette! Had to teach mine in a Lincoln Town Car. They gave her a pass on the parallel parking test : )

    1. Wow, a Town car! No wonder they gave them a pass...Lol
      She was dreaming about the Corvette...but it's nice to dream. Had to sell it about 6 years ago...very sad day! :-(