Learning to Drive with Dad

The other day, Dad walked into the room where I was working, and casually glanced over my shoulder at the screen of my not-so-trusty computer. He inquired as to how my work was progressing. I happened to mention that I was almost done transferring the website to valid CSS and XHTML Transitional from it's former invalidated HTML coding. He nodded, as if that was a given. I thought he really wasn't enthusiastic enough about the whole coding thing. Then he mentioned that when I was done with that, I might go ahead and "figure out the whole video thing." I looked at him intelligently and remarked: Huh?
Dad: Yes, Kiddo, I need you to figure out what is involved in, you know, editing video, and kind of put together a professional sort of promotional video clip.
Self: But... I've never done video... I don't know how to...
Dad: So? You can learn. So yeah, just work on that when you get done with the other. Ok?

Well, I wasn't so very surprised, really. One gets used to these sorts of things. Sooner or later, one discovers that one is actually capable of much more than most people expect. All one needs is someone who expects more than most people do, and is not very impressed with mediocre achievement. Case in point: driving lessons.

Mom tried to teach me to drive. The problem was, two weeks later we were still slowly rolling around that deserted block in Pac Harbour, learning stopping and starting. I could stop and start really well. Even got up to 20 kph! Then I graduated to a shift-stick and learned stopping and starting all over again. Lessons would go something like this:

Mom: Ok, start the car.
Self: *starts car*
Mom: Alright, drive to that palm tree up there.
Self: *slowly rolls to palm tree; stops car*
Mom: Ok, go ahead and drive to that next palm tree. You can go a bit faster this time.
Self: *rolls to next palm tree at the shocking speed of 10 k's*
Mom: Oh, here comes a car, pull over and we'll wait till they pass.
Self: *puts car in park; resists temptation to completely turn the motor off*
Mom: Ok, now go to that next palm tree.
Self: *goes to next........* well, you get the picture.

Then, one day, we were driving home from Nadi, and Dad decided that he would see how my driving was coming along. He pulled into that stretch of road along the front of Pac Harbour... you know, the one they race on... and got out. Time for a driving lesson from the Padre. Now, Dad and Mom differ somewhat.... it shows up in their teaching styles. Mom will teach something until you know it, patiently coaxing you along to the next step. Dad ... doesn't. Dad will teach you something until you are supposed to know it, and then will have you do it, perfectly. Actually, Dad's teaching style fits me pretty well, because otherwise I would just stick with the learning bit until Kingdom Come and never actually get around to the doing bit. So, here we go on a driving lesson with Dad:

Dad: Alright, Kiddo, get in. Start the car. Let's go.
Self: *starts car; forgets to put in the clutch* *engine dies*
Dad: Ok, Kiddo, you can go ahead and start the car now.
Self: *puts in clutch; does things correctly; starts car; puts car in first gear; panics when car starts moving; hits brake; accidently hits clutch instead* *engine dies*
Dad: Alrighty, Kiddo, start the car.
Self: *gives Dad a Glare**looks at the steering wheel and stick-shift in front of me*
The car had humiliated me enough. It was time to end this. I gripped the wheel with one hand, and the gear shift with the other. I took a deep breath; arranged my mind for wrestling. It was the car or me this time. I'm not perfectly sure what happened next... I'm sure that the car almost won, but in the end, I was in the driver's seat, with my foot on the accelerator, in first gear. The car was obediently rolling down the street. Dad nodded as though it was a given that the car would start when you told it to. I thought that he really was not enthusiastic enough about my victory. However, I did not have time to inform him of this, as I noticed a car coming toward us. I prepared for the customary halt.

Dad: What are you doing?
Self: Stopping.
Dad: I see that. Why are you stopping?
Self: *points toward oncoming car with my eyebrows* (my eyebrows were all that I could point with, my hands seemed to be stuck in a death grip on the steering wheel, in the required 9 and 3 o' clock positions, in readiness for the next time the car would try a counter-attack move)
Dad: So?
Self: That's a car.
Dad: So? So is this. This a road. Cars drive on roads.
Self: I don't drive in the presence of other cars.
Dad: Yes you do; drive.
Self: But, but, butbutbutBUTDAD.......

The car passed us. It didn't hit us; I stayed on my side of the road; we were all still alive. I looked at my intact body in wonderment.
Note: The above conversation and actions happened in the course of about 1.73 seconds. Also present, but not included in the above narrative, was a steady stream of agreements and explanations from Mom and Quinton in the back seat.

Dad nodded as though it was a given that cars would pass without catastrophe to either party. I thought that he really was not enthusiastic enough about our narrow brush with death. Well, perhaps not with death exactly, but certainly with bodily harm. Well, perhaps not harm exactly, but ... well, it was dangerous, very dangerous, and that is the point to which I am trying to come. Soon enough, I forgot all about passing that car. You know the old home remedy for a headache? The one where you hit your thumb with a hammer? No more headache. Well, Dad believes in these kinds of home remedies, and I suppose that is the tack we took at this point. Scared of a car? No problem, we can fix that.

I got us safely down the whole road there in front of the post office, and then we reached that stretch of road in front of the Culture Center. The stretch of road which is constantly strewn with cars parked, parking, or unparking; and is riddled with unsuspecting tourists. I began to stop the car once more.

Dad: What are you doing? (at this point a nasty suspicion began to creep into my mind that I was supposed to drive through this stretch of road)
Self: Stopping.
Dad: I see that. Why are you stopping? (This was sounding vaguely and unsettlingly familiar. The above-mentioned suspicion began to grow stronger.)
Self: That's a lot of cars.
Dad: So? This is a road.... (by this point, the suspicion had become cemented in my mind, and I had resigned myself to the gauntlet before me)

Sure enough, I was supposed to drive on. I eyed the road. I took a deep breath. I reached deep down inside myself for the steely resolve that would enable me to endure this terrible ordeal. I gripped the steering wheel, closed my eyes, and pressed forward. Well, perhaps I didn't exactly close my eyes. Before I knew what was happening, we were on the other side of the Culture Center. I gazed with astonishment at the clear road before me. I had passed through the fire and had not been burned! I had emerged alive! I had conquered the Road! I had persevered! I was elated! I ventured a glance at Dad. He nodded, as if it was a given.... I thought that he really was not enthusiastic enough... I had the sneaking suspicion that our driving lesson was not over... but I was no longer scared of passing a measly little car. The thumb-hitting remedy works, too, y'know.

My Dad has taught me never to give in to my first misgivings about my abilities. He has also taught me never to be satisfied with my first measly accomplishment. So, if you will excuse me, I must go... I have to run and "figure out the whole video thing."


  1. Oh Danielle!
    What a story!!! I know just how you feel!! My Dad taught just like that!!! Maybe that is where my brother got the idea from! HA HA HA.
    Did he ever tell you about when I learned to drive a stick shift in the small game reserve outside of Pietersburg? I was also trying to figure out the gear-to-clutch thing and we had made it all the way through the game reserve (stalling and then starting it back up again) to the very last little bit of the park. I was driving a small LUV chev pickup and really didn't know how to operate the clutch yet at all. Mom and Dad and I were all in the front and Pam and your Dad were in the back. Well, when we got to that "last bit" I've already mentioned I stalled the pickup because I was distracted by the largest Rhino I've ever seen eating the grass not at all far from the road. He didn't like us stopping so close to him and immediately started to charge toward us. They are really, really fast for their size!!!!!!! and He looked like he was bigger than our pickup which I was supposed to be driving but had stalled again!

    Immediately everyone started to give me orders at the top of their voices (all of them!) and I realized in that split second that I really didn't know what I was doing and had absolutely no business driving that dumb pickup in that dangerous place. I really, really wanted to quit but couldn't change seats with anyone because there wasn't enough room! Mom and Dad were both willing to change places right then! So it was under that kind of pressure I "learned" how to start and then change gears! As we hopped down the road I could see the Rhino crossing the road right behind us - so close that I'm sure Harmon and Pam could feel his breath. Ask him about it. I still haven't lived it down - but I do know how to drive a shift stick!

    You'll figure out the video, you already know how to do the pictures and it isn't much of a leap from there. I have faith in you. Didn't I see a video of Quinton spitting out awful toothpaste?

    Love ya,

  2. My goodness! Danielle, are you absolutely sure your dad is not related to my dad? That is exactly the same conversation he had with me on sunday when he was expecting me to just keep driving with a car passing me! It's freaking scary, but he was saying, Savannah, trust me, you can handle it. And I was like, Yeah dad! I trust YOU it's ME I don't trust! Thank goodness neither of my parent have a stick shift car. I couldn't handle that. You're doing great. I am very impressed. I agree with LeAnn, you'll get the video!

  3. Good picture by the way!