Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Driving Force

It seems like each summer we grab a project that occupies a lot of our time during the June, July, August period.

Last year, it was the pursuit of full-time employment for me.

This year, it's getting Claire, our middle daughter, her driver's license.

According to the driving laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, learner's permit drivers must log a certain number of hours behind the wheel with a licensed adult over the age of 21. When Amanda, our eldest, went for her license four years ago, my memory tells me that her requirement was somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 hours.

Not sure why, but in the interval between then and now, that bar has been set higher.

It's now a whopping 65 hours!

And what's more, they've got to be in-state. Student drivers cannot be behind the wheel and cross state lines.

So to amass that time in the driver's seat, at the onset of this project, Claire needed to steer her way the equivalent of the distance of about six round trips between home and Pittsburgh.

Knowing that that was infeasible, revved her engine on shorter jaunts.

The biggest issue has been fitting those trips into an already packed schedule. Weekends have been prime, but Eileen is often working at the bank Saturday mornings, and I'm often tied up Saturday afternoons during the summer accompanying weddings. We've tried as much as possible to have her drive us on various errands, but c'mon. The dry cleaners and back is probably 20 minutes, tops. 65 hours worth of that is 195 trips! Nobody's got that much dry cleaning.

We've pieced together a schedule that has had us out a lot of summer evenings, practicing highway travel, parallel parking, merging and yielding after dinner.

After some initial (expected) bumps in the road, Claire has developed into a good driver. She's still got a ways to go (15 hours or so), but she has progressed very nicely.

She's come far from her fledgling steps, circling the empty parking lot of a local outlet mall. Claire is a very lineal thinker: A is followed by B, which is followed by C, D, E, and F.

Unfortunately, driving doesn't unfold that way, so she struggled at first with the requisite multitasking:

  • "Yes, Claire, you must turn and accelerate at the same time."
  • "Yes, Claire, you need to pull up to the stop sign and put your turn signal on at the same time."
  • "Yes, Claire, you must stay in your merge lane and look for traffic on your left at the same time."

She has made a lot of progress, though.

And in all honesty, our time shared in the car has turned into a good chance to chat, share, bond.

Soon, she'll have her license and the wings of freedom to fly.

And I'll be very proud of her accomplishment.

But I think I'll miss our time together, too.

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