Friday, June 12, 2015

My Five Year Old Back Seat Driver

When I grew up in Idaho, it was legal to get a drivers license at age 14. In the farm town I'm from, most kids had already been driving some for a couple of years before that. I've been driving for a long time.

Not only that, but I have been a professional driver for over 25 years. I got my first professional drivers license, way back when they were still called a "chauffeur's" license when I was 21 years old. They're called a "CDL" license now, and over the years I've driven a lot of trucks a lot of different places.

I'm a very experienced, professional driver.

Which is why it probably bothers me so much when my five year old boy tries to tell me how to drive.

At first, I thought it was cute. I was quite proud of The Boy. He would point out stores as we drove by them. "That's the Spanish Fork Costco," or "That's Grammy's Walmart," or "That's the food Macey's, not the clothes Macy's." (Around here there is a grocery store chain called "Macey's" and a department store called "Macy's." The Boy likes to make sure we know which one he is talking about.)

Then, he started naming off the towns and the exits as we went by them. ("Springville has two exits, Daddy!") I was proud of the little guy.

The Boy has enjoyed driving from an early age.

And then, he started telling me how to drive.

It started on a trip to Grammy and PopPop's house, a drive we make frequently. There are about five miles between the exit before we get off for Grammy's house and the exit we actually take. One day, as soon as we got past the exit before Grammy's, The Boy started yelling, "DAD, THIS IS YOUR EXIT!"

"Yes, I know. Thanks," I said.


"Okay, I'll be sure to get off the next exit."


The problem, in The Boy's mind, was that I was not yet over in the right lane. My exit was the next exit, so I should be over in the right lane. Unfortunately, with four or five miles to go until that exit, I don't really want to be locked into the right lane yet. If I get over in the right lane immediately, I might get stuck behind someone who is actually going as slow as the speed limit. (In Utah, this is a major sin.)

Eventually, I will get over into the right lane, and The Boy will be appeased. At least momentarily. Because if, after I get off the exit, I don't quickly get into the left lane, where I need to be to make the turn to Grammy's house, I'll hear from him again.

He'll now also keep me posted on speed limits and stop signs, as well.


"Yes, son, I know."


"Yes, son, I know."

It's almost like I'm 14 years old in the driver's ed car with Mr. Yearsley again.

But, this is not to say that little kids should never be back seat drivers. When I was seven years old (and my brother was 11) my Mom drove the family from Idaho to Virginia to visit her parents. If my brother and I hadn't been there, we might not have ever made it back to Idaho.

How lost did Mom get sometimes? Well, we were in Norfolk, Virginia and we wanted to go to the Atlantic Ocean, which we had never seen. My Mom couldn't find it. My brother and I kept telling her to just keep driving east and we'd run into it, but Mom literally could not find the ocean!

When we went to leave Roanoke, Virginia to head back to Idaho, our route was to take I-81 southwest for 20 miles or so to Blacksburg, and then we would shoot up through West Virginia for a bit. Well, when we went to get on the freeway and Mom saw it said "I-81 South," she froze up. She knew Idaho was north of Virginia, so she thought we should take "I-81 North." The problem with that is that "I-81 North" would take us northeast, back toward Washington D.C.

It took a lot of determined, passionate, and confident backseat driving from my 11 year old brother to convince my Mom she was going the wrong way. Luckily, Mom eventually listened and we made it home. (Not completely without incident, though. Once, when my brother and I were asleep, she got turned around and went the opposite direction for about an hour or so.)

So, there are times when a young backseat driver can be a good thing.

I guess I'm glad The Boy knows a few things about driving at this young age. I just need to be patient. Because it won't be too many years before I'll be the one in the back seat, yelling at him, "BOY, THIS IS YOUR EXIT!"

No comments:

Post a Comment