There are lots of things parents should teach a child as they go from being a 10-year-old pain in the butt to a 15-year-old pain in the butt.
That’s not exactly true. They’re a pain in the butt at just about any age, but there are things that need to be taught. At a young age, kids are taught that they can dial 9-1-1 for a police officer, or dial 9-1-1 to tell the police officers who came to their school that day that they enjoyed the presentation, or to tell the 9-1-1 operator that they don’t like their brother or sister.
Later, you try and teach your kids to actually use the dirty clothes hamper, located not more than six inches from the pile of clothes on the bathroom floor that apparently was a better landing zone. Maybe you made an attempt at teaching them how to make the bed. (Pause here so you can laugh, especially if you have boys.)
As they get older, you are all too soon faced with allowing this thing — with all the maturity of a pinecone — near your car. Worse yet, at some point they’re going to get behind the wheel. If you are approaching this time with your first kid, stop reading and go to the liquor store.
There are certain absolutes to teaching your kids to drive. The first is simple: At some point they will try and kill you and any other occupant in the car at least once. So one of the spouses should not be in the car while the other attempts to teach beginning driving skills — unless you are done with a current will and are satisfied with your current life insurance policy.
Each of my children has tried to take my life while in the beginning stage of driver’s training. The preferred method for my kids was the “left turn of death.”
“Okay, dear, see the large tractor-trailer truck approaching? Well, make sure you never attempt to turn in front of — what the %@]#(&!$ are you doing??!!”
Somehow they learned and passed — sometimes eventually passing — the driver’s test.
Now, fast forward to that time where they actually get to use the car for the first time, solo. This will be a few months before the first ticket that you hope they fess up to before the court date and after all that stuff you try to drill into their head. Things like “Make sure you go the speed limit. If you get a ticket, my insurance rates are going to hit the max faster than a convenience store burrito passes through your — whatever, you get it?”
There is nothing you can do to ease the trauma and excitement of staying up all night. At least it seems like all night — though it’s only 11:00 — when you’re waiting for your kid to arrive safely. (This is the same kid who farts, then chuckles, at the dinner table.)
But there is something you can do that is both important and gives you some peace of mind — not much, but some. How many of you have kids who, in the case of a flat tire, can pull over and change it?
I have — on many, many occasions — come across stranded motorists, standing there, lost and on the cell phone trying to get someone to come and change a tire. (“Motorists” being both male and female.) Do yourself and your kid a favor and teach them how to change a tire.
They may never have to do it, but knowing they can get the tire changed and back on the road in 15 minutes is a heck of a better option than them sitting on the side of the road for an hour — especially at 11 p.m. when you are at home expecting them to come through the door, farting and chuckling.
In most cases, the kid will have a cell phone. You should have an in-car cell phone even if you don’t want them to have a regular cell phone. (Texting is another matter and a topic for another day, so we’ll shelve it for now.)
Here’s what you do: Get the car that they will use. We live just outside of metro Ball Ground and, by law, we have to own at least one truck. So, depending on what you own, put it in the driveway or garage and do the hands-on lesson on how to change a tire. (Before you give the lesson, read the manual so you’ll look like you’re a wiz at it.)
Take said child and go over the rules:
That night, once they are in and ignoring you — which is usually when they arrive home and until they go to bed — you should sneak out, bring the car to a level place in eitherthe driveway or garage, and let the air out of a tire. Then go to bed.
The next day when they get up that afternoon, as most do, you will soon hear “Augggggaaaahhhh! The tire’s flat!!”
Your response: “Change it.”
After they whine, moan and then realize you weren’t kidding, supervise them changing the tire solo and offer helpful advice (not yelling or criticizing, but calm advice) when needed until they finish. This way, they’ll know they can change a tire, and you’ll feel better knowing they can change one and perhaps get out of a bad situation as soon as possible. After that, it’s all farts and chuckles.