The Learner’s Permit

So it finally happened, Amy got her learner’s permit.  She passed her permit test on Friday, and was out driving on Saturday.  Her permit allows her to drive with a licensed driver over age 21 in the front seat between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.  When she turns 16 she can get a license that will allow her to drive by herself, but still with restricted hours.  Restricted hours last until age 18, with exceptions for driving between work and home.

Saturday morning it was very windy and rainy, on and off.  Of course if you recall it was Tropical Storm Barry, so we were not going to have perfect weather, for sure.  I wasn’t comfortable having her drive on the roads in bad weather so I didn’t promise a driving lesson on Friday night.  Anyway, when we got up it was ok, so we went out in the neighborhood.  Before we went out, we sat down and made a pact (well, I made a pact, anyway) that she would think of me as a teacher and not as mom, and that I would think of her as a student and not as Amy.  So, the goal is respect, listening, and working together as a team.  That’s the goal, anyway.

We drove around the neighborhood about 10 times, and Amy listened and followed directions very well.  Of course, there is no way to get any speed going, but she was able to get a feel for driving a car, turning, braking, using signals, etc.  Then we went over to the Epcot parking lot.  There is one section of the lot that is rarely used, and Amy was able to practice turning, and was able to get up to a bit faster speeds than in the neighborhood.  There was a guy in a maintenance truck parked at the front of the lot under the trees, I’ll bet he was eating his lunch, and was probably quite amused to watch us drive around and around, turning, making u-turns, stopping, turning, etc.  He had a story to tell later that day for sure.

Then we went to my friend Deanna’s house in Clermont.  Amy was eager to drive, and she is so fearless, that I decided that she could drive home, at least part of the way.  The route entails two fairly busy major highways, but not interstates (not this time anyway).  I drove through some construction areas, and then Amy took over.  She drove about 20 miles, through some fairly challenging traffic, one basic cloverleaf ramp, some merging, lane-changing, and medium speeds, about 50 miles per hour or so at most.  You never realize how much there is to watch for until you have to coach your kid through driving on her first day.

By the time we got home, I was tired, hands were sore from clenching my fists, and my brain was trying to explode because I had held my breath most of the way.  I’m just kidding, I wasn’t too nervous, I kept very calm, but Amy did a very good job, it was impressive how well she did on her very first day out!

On Sunday, she got to drive over to Disney, and was able to do some more major roads and intersections.  No interstate, yet.  Tony has taken her driving the past few days in the van, as well, so she’s getting used to the bigger car.

It’s going to be an experience, ready or not, and I thought potty training was difficult!  Phew!

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